Working in Long-Term Care Centres (CHSLD) during the pandemic

Submitted by McGill University
October 7, 2020

In Quebec, Canada, the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard in nursing homes for the elderly. It was all over the news that the elderly were dying not only from the coronavirus but from effects of negligence due to lack of personnel. This was not a new problem but rather one that was exacerbated by the pandemic. The situation was so critical that the Canadian Armed Forces had to “come to the rescue” and be trained on how to do orderly and nursing work. At that time, I was still in college completing my last semester of my nursing degree and working part time in a CHSLD near my home. Changes were happening and they were happening fast. In mid-March, restrictions were starting to be applied such as keeping the residents two meters apart, more social distancing between colleagues, etc. The centre I was working for built a separate unit in April for COVID positive or suspected patients to limit the risk of spread. Eventually loved ones of the residents were no longer allowed to visit leaving them feeling isolated and hopeless. I was working on a closed dementia unit and although the residents weren’t able to verbally express their feelings due to the advanced state of their dementia, you could feel it in their behaviours that it was taking a toll on them. Luckily, the centre I worked for did not acquire any contamination from COVID-19 during the first wave but the fear was present. I consider myself lucky for being able to be a presence for these individuals at such an uncertain time where they found themselves very vulnerable both physically and mentally. With that, I try to spread awareness especially to younger generations who don’t necessarily realize the impact that their actions can have on a more vulnerable population like the elderly. That is one of our roles as nurses to educate others for the safety and wellbeing of the community. Nurses have definitely been a crucial role in this pandemic and feel the recognition of the public through their interactions with their patients. Happy year of the nurse!