COVID-19 and Mental Health: Part 6 (Interview with Family Member of LTC Resident)

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Bonnie McKechnie, Family Member of a Resident at a Calgary Long Term Care Facility

What impacts (positive or negative) do you experience as a direct result of the visitation regulations?

I fully understood the restrictions that were coming as the information was posted at main entrance, on website, emails, and staff talked about it. (all positive things) Mom and I had a discussion of ‘this will happen, we just don’t know when, so that while it was upsetting when it happened it wasn’t a complete surprise.

How do you stay in contact (residents & family) during times of physical distancing?

Staff explained that they would be setting up FaceTime/Skype or some method of contact between myself and mom. This was a HUGE positive as my mom does not have the willingness to call me. 

How have these regulations changed the way you support families and residents in regards to social contact?

I visit every day except Fridays, so not being able to see each other, hug, kiss and joke around we knew would be missed. But because we ‘knew it was coming’ it is manageable with a few tears.  

What coping strategies do you implement for your own mental health during these times?

At the beginning it was stressful and I had tears, but because of the early communication by the care home of what was going to happen, I can accept the change.  I accept changes because I know that if I stress about them, and mom sees that, she worries about me.  I accept it easily once I know that I cannot change the situation. I also plan to do things.  More baking/cooking, craft time, cleaning, walk time.

Do you feel stress has impacted your ability to receive/provide quality care?

It has not affected my ability.  I ‘compartmentalize’ what I can and cannot change.  While I am better at it, my Mom can do this also.

How does your response to stressors directly impact the well-being of others around you?

I do not let it outwardly affect me, I remain upbeat and positive about situations that are beyond my control. Now it doesn’t mean that I don’t react to it – I just don’t let others (Mom, staff, etc) see it as it won’t help the situation. Then at home I punch a few pillows – LOL or meditate.

How does your facility’s response to COVID-19 influence your views on the benefits of visitation and mental well-being for residents?

Knowing the plan the facility had a head of time was crucial. They have been well organized and full of information every step of the way. Mom and I are realists, if [these changes in the long term care facility] are] for the greater good, then we can understand and accept.