Everything is operating as normal at two West Prince community care facilities currently closed to the public due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The residents are doing great,” said LoriAnne Keough, the manager of the Tignish Seniors Home. “We’ve increased our activities. We’ve got extra bingos going on, scavenger hunts and we had our own little St. Patrick’s Day party with staff... We’re just keeping everything upbeat.”
Executive Director of Rev. W.J. Phillips Residence Colleen Parker said residents at the Alberton facility are doing fine too.
“The staff are doing a lot of activities,” she said. “They’re doing bingos and different games... The residents aren’t really seeing a lot of difference, other than they’re not seeing their families.”
Both West Prince facilities made the decision to close their doors and restrict access prior to PEI’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr Heather Morrison declaring that all public and private long-term and community care facilities would be restricting visitors in effort to protect residents from COVID-19.
“The way things were evolving, it was absolutely necessary to protect our residents because they would be considered in the vulnerable population,” said Ms Parker.
Visitors can’t enter either building nor can residents leave, unless there is a medical emergency.
Ms Parker has been in her position at the Phillips Residence for five and half years and there has only been one incident over that period of time the facility had to restrict visitors prior to the current situation.
“This is completely different,” she said. “All the doors are locked. Even the front door and people have to ring the doorbell to come in.”
Ms Parker said staff are meeting everyone at the door, including service or delivery people.
“We’re checking if they’ve had any contact with anybody who has been travelling and asking them to wear a mask if they have to come in,” she said about the precautions being taking at the facility. “We’re trying to do everything we can to mitigate it (COVID-19) from coming in here.”
Ms Keough said the decision to close the Tignish Seniors Home was made between the town and the home.
“I think it was a good decision on everyone’s behalf to shut the door to keep everybody safe,” she said.
With the assistance from staff, Ms Keough said residents have been using modern technology, like FaceTime and Skype, to keep in contact with family.
“That’s really working out well,” she said.
But Ms Keough said residents are just as worried about their families on the outside as their families are worried about them inside the seniors home.
“The more they hear from their families, whether it’s by telephone or FaceTime or whatever, it just kind of makes them at ease, which makes our jobs easier because they’re not worried,” she said.
Last week, a local Tignish woman began collecting donations to put together ‘Christmas in March’ boxes to be delivered to the residents at the seniors home. Suggestions for items included magazines, books, puzzle books, crossword books, sudoku books, colouring books and crayons, Kleenex, yarn, jigsaw puzzle, toiletries, playing cards, bingo dabbers, candy, chocolate, gum etc. The seniors home would be checking with the Public Health Office to make sure the donations would be OK to accept. The items will also be left for 72 hours and sanitized before being handed out to the residents.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Ms Keough about the donations. “It’s so nice to hear the positive instead of the negative. I think the residents need to hear that as well. Once you hear the negative so many times a day, it’s hard to pick them back up, but when they hear all this positive stuff going on, it just makes everyone happy.”
Ms Parker said a family of a former resident are also putting together a box of items to donate to the Phillips Residence. Those items will be sanitized before being given to residents.
“We appreciate the cooperation and the understanding of the families and the public,” said Ms Parker. “This is unprecedented times.”