I went to see my wife Sheila the other day at the long term care facility. She is in her 25th year of Huntington's Disease. It's a scheduled visit, by appointment only, due to Covid-19, for a half hour once per week. I also get a Skype call once per week for approximately a half hour. She is 60 years old, a Spring chicken by nursing home standards. I had an appointment today, which I cancelled due to a low fever when I took my temperature before I went. I have always done that just in case as I don't want to take a possible virus into a nursing home, not because of Covid-19; it's just a habit.
It was a nice day, sunny, a bit breezy but very comfortable. That's important as visits are held outside on the veranda or in the garden. I'm not sure if there is a plan for this winter...I somehow doubt it.
I arrived with my son Malachi a bit early, but it was on purpose due to the protocols that you have to adhere to before your visit can begin.
First, they take your temperature, then a series of questions about your health and if you have traveled outside the Atlantic provinces in eastern Canada. You must wear a mask. You are explained the rules of the visit each time you arrive. For instance, there is no touching, no hugs, kisses and you must remain 6 feet apart at all times. Once you are seated, then they bring her out to visit with you.
Recently, the government of Nova Scotia allowed hugs to be given to our loved ones in nursing homes, however, the nursing home where my wife is a resident has not received that message apparently, so again, no hugs.
I still agree to the closure of nursing homes even though Covid-19 does not exist in our region and there is no community spread. Schools are also scheduled to reopen this September.
As I stated earlier, we were a bit early, so we had to wait for another family's visit to end. I could see them with who may have been a mother or grandmother who is a resident at the home. They were engaged in lively conversation, laughing, having what appeared to be a joyful visit. I was informed that it would be just a few more minutes as they had to end this visit, return the elderly lady to her room, then seat us and bring out Sheila for a visit.
The lady's face, which appeared lovely and dignified, even though her hair was not fixed, changed immediately to profound sadness as she seemed to voice disapproval. She didn't want to leave her company. She reached out to her visitors, but they could not touch her. She started to cry and put her hands to her face to hide her emotion as she was taken inside in her wheelchair. One of the women visiting her broke down. Tears were evident and I kicked myself afterward for not telling the woman in charge that I could wait longer. I can't get the image out of my mind. I said to the gentleman who was visiting with the group as he walked by me, "that was very difficult, I'm sorry". He only replied, "yes, it certainly is".
From what I understand, these scenarios are happening due to fear from the families of residents who are afraid that Covid-19 could get into a nursing home. We all know what happens then. However, we can't forget that most likely the vast majority of those in nursing homes are in various stages of palliative care and some are over 100 years old. We are told that there will be no changes to this policy in the foreseeable future. It could be at least a couple of years.
At issue here is a segment of society, that for the most part won't see the end of this policy and who are doomed to have no human touch from their families, friends and other loved ones for the rest of their lives.
I fought back tears...