Across Ottawa are seniors and their families who need help. Whether it be offering health care to people in need in their homes or by connecting seniors living with dementia with friends through our virtual programs, Carefor staff bring with them a Ray of Light into people's lives, helping them feel supported and connected. COVID-19 has had not only taken a physical toll but also a mental and emotional one on our parents and loved ones.
Here are stories of hope, of connection and of community.
Carefor nurses are ray of light during a time of darkness for thousands of local families
After a day of preparing and serving food, offering physical support, and performing other caregiving tasks, the sound of Carefor RPN Tina Cuerrier knocking on the door has William breathing a sigh of relief. For his mother, Anna Mae, it’s peace of mind.
It has been a few years since William R. Lacroix was the primary caregiver to a loved one who required Carefor support. The first time was when his wife, Holly, was diagnosed with cancer in 2017. Tina cared for Holly during her final days. But when his mother’s health took a turn for the worse last year, he urgently needed Carefor’s help again.
Although requiring support from Carefor is not the sign of the best of times, our programs and services are there for individuals and families when they need it the most. When seniors are feeling a heightened sense of social isolation, stress, and anxiety during COVID, Carefor staff are a ray of light during this period of darkness.
Helping seniors when help is needed the most
Ottawa seniors face isolation now, more than ever. One fourth of all seniors in Ottawa live alone and many deal with health conditions that require support.
Anna Mae Lacroix lived independently for many years and was in good health for decades. However last year, after her granddaughter was concerned by a bump and cuts on her feet, they went to the hospital, and several tests later found that she had severe bladder problems. Shortly after that, more health issues followed. After being discharged from the hospital, she desperately needed continued care and support. To keep mom safe at home, William stepped up and welcomed her to live with his family.
“I am at 24/7 care here. If it wasn’t for my son, I wouldn’t be alive,” Anna Mae says, “And if it wasn’t for [Carefor], I’d have no quality of life.”
In-home nursing has given her comfort, health, and safety, especially during COVID. Every time Tina arrives, Anna Mae describes it as an extended family member walking through the door – one who is attending not only to her physical wellbeing, but also her mental.
“They’re family, they have a minute to sit and listen,” she says. “They’re keeping people sane.”
But home care support isn’t only a lifeline for clients, it’s also a lifeline for caregivers: "It’s the people at home who need the help to take the pressure off,” Anna Mae admits. “When Tina arrives, it gives my family a break.”
Caregivers are doing more, with less
Families are putting in the extra effort to keep their loved ones at home. It’s estimated that 8 million Canadians care for a family member, and COVID-19 has decreased supports available to them.
“I just can’t do it all by myself … It’s overwhelming,” Williams says. “You’re constantly aware of the person that’s in need. If you’re not aware, then you realize that you’re [the one] in need.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has put extra pressure on families in how they’re able to support their loved ones. The support and training home care staff need go beyond ensuring physical wellbeing, but also making sure that families don’t burnout.
“Compassion and understanding beats everything else. You have to be able to get that and that’s what makes the difference with home care," William attests. “Knowing I have Carefor there as a resource makes a big difference on my mental state and how I can care for my mother.”
Home care means caring for everyone in the home
Home care nurses like Tina bring help, caring and connection giving seniors and families peace of mind.
“Being a 24/7 caregiver takes its toll,” Tina says. “It changes people’s role in the family, adding more stress and anxiety. That’s why I’m here. So that people like William don’t have to just be a caregiver but can also be a son.”
Home care is allowing thousands of local families to stay together longer. It’s also one of the cheapest and safest ways to deliver and receive care, keeping our loved ones out of hospitals and long-term care homes.
For these reasons, Tina is a huge advocate for home care and has worked for Carefor for decades: “We make a difference in people’s lives … We relieve their stress and anxiety, giving these families a break.”
Carefor home care staff are more than their title. They’re a close friend. A listening ear. A shoulder to cry on. A reason to smile. They’re a ray of light and a sign of hope for thousands of local seniors and their families.
Health is more than just the body. Mental wellness plays a key role in one’s physical wellness. Specialized training allows home care staff to identify issues and support their clients with their mental and emotional struggles such as depression and addiction, which have been heightened during COVID-19. You can help staff receive the necessary training they need now and into the future by donating at carefor.ca/donate.