CORNER BROOK — Lisa Payne is worried about her mother.
For a week now, visitor restrictions at the Corner Brook Long Term Care Home have meant neither the Pasadena woman nor any of her family have been able to visit with 85-year-old Mona Davis.
The visitation restriction, confined to Partridgeberry Place (the fourth floor of the facility), was put in place last Wednesday in response to a number of residents suffering from an influenza-type illness.
The issue for Payne is not just that the family can’t see their mother, it’s that they can’t provide the care for her that they have been since she moved into the home over two years ago.
Davis, 85, suffered a stroke in July 2010 that left her paralyzed on the right side of her body and without the ability to speak.
Payne’s three sisters take turns and spend about 15 hours a day with their mother caring for her needs, everything from feeding and washing her to cleaning her room, changing her bed, doing her laundry and taking her out of bed.
“My three sisters know her right now better than anyone else, better than me, better than anybody else, because they spend every third day there with her,” said Payne.
Payne agrees the care her sisters provide involves things the staff at the facility should be doing and said they have been asked many times why they don’t just let the staff do it.
“Our mother is 85 years old, there’s 10 of us kids, and she spent her lifetime doing for us. Mother’s do that. And she’s not going to be left alone to have the kind of care they provide in there. They’re not going to stand for that and this is just proof that they need to be in there.”
She said the family is worried, not only about their mother’s physical health and if her needs are being met, but also about her emotional well-being.
Payne said they regularly call the unit to check on her, but doesn’t think family is getting the full story.
“I call in, an hour later my sister will call in and they’re telling us two different things,” she said. “They’re not providing us with the truth. They’re providing us with words they think we want to hear.”
Payne said a similar situation occurred at the home last winter, but then her sisters were allowed in at meal time.
“What made this time any different from last time?” she said, and questioned why those who are sick aren’t isolated from everyone else.
“I’d just like to get my sisters back in there, even for a couple of hours a day. Just to sit with her and reassure her that her family hasn’t deserted her.”
Helping provide care
Meanwhile, Kelli O’Brien said the practice of families helping provide care to residents is something that has been happening for a long time.
“You would absolutely want to have family involvement in decision making and certainly there are families who come in and continue to do things for their loved ones, such as helping them with their meals,” said Western Health’s vice-president of long-term care and rural health. “We still have staff who are able to care for these residents and who do provide that role. Our staff are working hard as they always do to provide the best care possible.”
O’Brien said the restriction not only applies to visitors, but also to staff who would not be allowed on the unit unless they are involved with patient care there.
She said sick patients are not moved to another area because the facility is considered their permanent home and, because it is nearly 100 per cent occupied, Western Health doesn’t have the ability to move residents from room to room or location to location. She said if a patient was very sick, then they would be isolated in their rooms.
In terms of access during the visitor restriction, O’Brien said it can be arranged in extenuating circumstances, like if a patient’s health is declining or in the case of a special occasion.
O’Brien said staff at the home are willing to meet with and discuss any concerns a family may have and how they can work together.
She said it is difficult to predict how long the visitation restriction will last and, late Wednesday, was awaiting laboratory results to determine if the ban would be lifted. But before that happens, she said, the entire unit will undergo a specialized cleaning.