Long term care home residents connect with loved ones
Menno Place in Abbotsford facilitates over 700 Zoom calls to date during COVID-19 lockdown
“My eyes are wet.”
Bewildered, Georgina Onstine looked up at her care aide at Menno Home and wiped away the tears as they rolled down her cheeks. After several weeks of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Onstine had just seen her son, Allen, on TV.
“She was thrilled to talk to her son,” said Menno Place recreation staff member, Vera Beerling. “He was so big on the screen and she commented on his wrinkles and grey hair. ‘You’re old!’ she exclaimed!”
Beerling connected Onstine and her son via Zoom through Menno Place’s new video conferencing program launched in April. Since the lockdown began in long-term care homes across British Columbia in late March, no visitors have been allowed in Menno Home and Hospital, leaving the 350 residents and their family members longing for conversation and a glimpse of one another.
In the first three days of the program, 87 calls were facilitated. Since then, over 700 video connections have been made between residents and loved ones.
“It’s what we hoped for and more,” added Beerling. “It’s been wonderful to see our seniors engage with their families.”
Families have expressed their gratitude for this connection amidst a difficult and uncertain time.
“I felt such joy to see and hear my dad,” said Nuria Rivera after her Zoom call with her father, Antonio Casas. “Thank you for working on new ways to help us keep in touch with our loved ones. You all are my heroes!”
Menno Place’s Zoom program allows for one 15-minute Zoom call per resident per week. There is capacity for 10 calls per day in each of the seven units at Menno Home and Hospital. Family members are able to book their calls through a simple online process at the Menno Place Family & Friends Website.
The Zoom program has also allowed friends and family members who live at a distance to connect with their loved ones. Many out-of-province and international calls have been facilitated.
“Dad’s spirits were lifted as he was able to see all of our faces from Saskatchewan to Texas to Squamish to Kamloops and the Lower Mainland. It was awesome!” a family member commented online.
“I live in the UK so visits are not possible,” said another. “Therefore Zoom calls are a God-send. I want to thank the Menno staff for their care of my sister and for setting up the Zoom call system, which is working, overall, very well.”
Of course, as many in this season of virtual connection have experienced, technical glitches happen. Bad wifi connections, audio and video issues, and the usual contentions we have with technology have caused some frustration, but on the whole, families and residents have shown patience and gratitude for this opportunity to connect.
Menno Place has been flooded with messages of thanks, like this one from Ron and Janet Gray:
“We can’t tell you how blessed we were to be able to speak with Valeri Russell and see her smiling face. Her face just lit up at seeing her niece, her mom and the rest of the family. What a brilliant idea! Thank you for those creative ideas that the recreation department came up with and of course everyone else involved. Even though this was a difficult time for all the staff, we felt that they went above and beyond to help Val and I am sure the other residents as well. Thank you, thank you and thank you doesn’t seem enough. So we continue to pray blessings upon Menno Place and the staff, from the office to the kitchen and to the nursing and support staff. May God continue to bless the work of your hands.”
Menno Place’s Manager of Recreation and Volunteers, Joanne Sweeney, is grateful for the opportunity to connect residents and their loved ones at this challenging time.
“When Menno Place made the difficult, but necessary decision to lock down the Home and Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic, we were aware how hard it would be on both residents and their loved ones,” she said. “We needed to be innovative in how we provided programs and connections, but still keep the residents safe. I have a strong and compassionate team that worked alongside Menno Place communications and tech staff to make this Zoom program happen. We are thrilled to be able to serve our seniors and their loved ones in this way.”
The Menno Place Zoom program will continue throughout the lockdown, with hopes to extend it into the future.
Additional messages of thanks Menno Place has received from family and friends:
“I am over the moon with joy with the availability to connect via Zoom. I want to extend a thank you to all of the staff at the Menno campus as they are doing an amazing job caring for our loved ones.” – Allen Onstine
“Thank you so much for all you do. You go above and beyond the call of duty and you are appreciated. I can’t wait to return to Canada and thank you myself. You are true professionals and compassionate beyond measure.” – Heather Robinson
“We can’t believe how caring, capable and amazing all the staff are. We realize how much work and responsibility the staff has without any add ons yet here they are, arranging this opportunity for communication and doing so willingly and lovingly. You are all beautiful people.” – Janeen Szigety
“I can’t even say enough how much love and respect I feel for the staff at Menno – from management right through to the cleaning staff and everyone in between. Your care for the residents was already exceptional before the lockdown started, which is exactly why the level of excellence has not suffered!” – Irm Nickel