Family members reflect on the value of being essential caregivers

Since becoming essential caregivers for their loved ones living in OMNI Health Care long-term care homes, family members say they’re enjoying time spent inside homes and seeing the difference being there for their loved ones makes.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, long-term care homes were immediately closed to everyone but essential visitors. While residents and families were able to have regular telephone and video calls, many went months without in-home visits with their loved ones.

But since the province began allowing family members to become essential caregivers for their loved ones living in long-term care homes, the time residents and their loved ones have had together has made a positive impact on everyone, family members recently told The OMNIway.

“You can’t believe the difference,” said Maureen Whiteside, the daughter of a Springdale Country Manor resident. “(My mother) really appreciates the visits and always asks when the next visit is.”

During her regular visits with her mom, Maureen said she has also witnessed the compassion Springdale team members show residents. She says staff members go out of their way to give Springdale a homey, family-like atmosphere.

“I like that they chit-chat with all the residents,” she said. “They have pet names for the residents and they just are very happy and comfortable talking with the residents. That’s a big comfort. … They try to make it homey.”

Karen Germundson says becoming an essential caregiver for her father at Forest Hill “has made all the difference in the world” – both to her dad and to her.

Karen, who became an essential caregiver in October 2020, visits her dad regularly at the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home. The greatest value she brings her father in this role, she says, is “emotional support.”

“He can tell things are changing and it scares him,” she said. “So, I see my big role is to be there to help him on the days he’s really afraid and then providing that support.”

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