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Letter to Villagers and Staff

by | Education, The Village

From The Desk of Melanie Young. RN. Executive Director. April 27, 2020.

Thank you for staying home. Thank you for social distancing. Thank you for your support as we navigate the changes to our collective wellness.

Staying home, staying in your suites, apartments, houses, homes is absolutely essential to both control the spread of Covid 19 and reduce the risk to all who live and work around you.

The experiences of other Long Term Care and seniors housing organisations across Canada must be the reason we, here at Kiwanis Village, on beautiful Vancouver Island, refrain from any external contact unless it is truly essential.

I cannot stress enough to each of you reading this missive the importance of adhering to the requirements as stated by all our government leaders, by the Centre for Disease Control and by our own supportive health authority.

I know that restriction on our freedoms is the single biggest influence on our infection rates. I understand how that feels and I understand how the gaps in our individual and collective support systems are more visible.

Unless you have a truly essential reason for leaving the relative comfort of your own home that cannot be met in any other way such as a true medical need that cannot be resolved without physical assessment, a critical reduction in supplies, medication or other essentials that must be resolved immediately, stay home.

It is essential that we rise to this challenge, that we become ambassadors of this challenge and that we hold ourselves as role models for all.

Our actions and inaction’s both collectively and individually WILL have an impact on our futures.

Now is the time for us to reflect, to learn from others and to lean into this pandemic and allow it to change our normal days without panic, without unfounded resistance and without emotionally triggered resistive behaviours that we may regret.

Kiwanis Village is utilizing an ethical decision making framework to support our decisions across the Village. The key principles are respect, The Harm Principle, Fairness, least coercive and restrictive methods, working together, reciprocity, proportionality, flexibility, procedural justice, accountability, inclusivity, openness, transparency, and reasonableness as we make decisions. In between this we make tea and scratch our heads, we ask questions and we ask for your support. We worry in the same way you do and sometimes we feel the burden of our responsibilities more heavily than others.

We are all new to this

We have been monitoring and managing our PPE supplies and you will see that we have availability to all staff across the Village. We are working with our suppliers and with Island Health to sustain our processes as we acquire additional procedure masks, eye protection, gloves and gowns. As the world increases its need for PPE we watch as our neighbours to the south in the States suffer greatly. In response we have been proactive in building a supply chain for fabric masks and gowns that meet specific standards for cloth weave and durability. Should we find ourselves with a diminished or unsustainable PPE supply we will move to cloth masks. We have secured a supply of beautiful masks. Until then, and I will let you know if this changes or falters, staff wear healthcare quality PPE provided by Kiwanis Village Nanaimo.

Although we remain firmly closed and have no access to visitors, contractors, vendors etc who are not on our approved list or have met the stringent criteria for access, there is so much good news within our Village

In Housing (The Villa, The House, The Suites and The Manor) we have initiated the following supports aimed at ensuring meaningful connections, services and fun:

  • The ‘Jolly Trolley’ is making light-hearted rounds and safely providing much needed fun items, birthday cake, tea, coffee etc.
  • Kiwanis Village staff deliver directly to the door a range of groceries and supplies, medications and other items using our ‘Wait at the Gate’
  • Recreation is ‘calling for a conversation’ with residents and tenants
  • There is a Villager Wellness Hot Line accessed by dialing 250 753 6471 ext 1. Residents and families can leave a message and we will endeavour to return your call on the same day.
  • The KV Grocery Cart officially started the week of April 20th and is a door to door delivery cart filled with groceries and will be in each building once a week.
  • The dial in recreation programming continues to happen 3x a day – updates residents with things happening around Kiwanis and shares trivia, short stories, riddles and bingo games.
  • All meals are delivered right to the door by our committed team of cooks, servers, and recreation staff. We have recently been able to alter our menus to better reflect menus prior to Covid-19

In Long Term Care at The Lodge we have created home neighbourhoods by reducing traffic across the 4 floors through the careful allocation of staff and the addition of focused recreation therapy to each floor.

We provide staff with PPE and promote social distancing where possible between residents and staff. PPE is used when social distancing is not an option so we are all getting acquainted with how to connect with masks and glasses, sometimes it is funny, sometimes it is difficult and frustrating, but overall we understand how important it is to maintain safety in this way.

We are supporting physician visits using a secure program on an iPad and we are increasing the availability of Facetime, Zoom, etc for family connection. Next step is to see the viability of re-integrating care conferences using a remote and encrypted method.

Oddly, the quietness of the Lodge is supporting residents to relax somewhat, as with all of us, this new quiet can feel soothing for our nervous systems.

Kiwanis Village Staff are utterly awesome, I mean that, I am often in awe. Each of us at Kiwanis is experiencing the pandemic in similar and different ways. Our home supports and situations vary, child care challenges, income loss, wellness levels, seeing way too much of each other and stress and anxiety, all contribute to how we show up each day. The fact that almost all Kiwanis staff have committed to working within the village is a testament to our enduring reputation as ‘people working for people’ a statement as true in the 60’s when it was first captured, as it is today.

We are almost ready to launch our staff access portal where everyone will have access to education, message boards, information etc. This will become the formal repository for education on all things but right now focus on Covid-19. We have identified RN level education support on site and across the Village so look out for more news about this in the next week or so.

You’ll see both Kiwanis and Island health staff wearing various degrees of PPE dependent on the type of care and service required by residents and tenants. A higher level of PPE is required for staff giving direct and intimate care than those who can maintain social distancing while in service. Please understand that donning and doffing PPE can feel exhausting for staff and somewhat restrictive. Please support us with patience and understanding as we navigate these new processes. All staff are supported by us to take more rest breaks on shift, ensure hydration and nutrition and to seek us out for help and support where necessary. We want to know about your lived experience of working with us so we can learn and adapt.

Staff are working tirelessly to maintain their own health and ensure social distancing in their homes so they are able to safely support residents and tenants and be available for family and friends of Kiwanis. There is much sacrifice occurring in the lives of all staff, let us all deeply appreciate this action.

The leadership team has altered workweeks to ensure we are present each day and I am able to stay frequently overnight during times where the stressors feel higher. I am not sure if it helps staff and residents but it helps me manage my own feelings as we make decisions that are new to all of us.

To all who are reading this who cannot visit loved ones, please know this:

We care, we are willingly present so you do not have to be, we are resilient and we are committed to safe, compassionate, inclusive care. We are also sometimes scared, sometimes frustrated and sometimes confused. Mostly we are in service to our community and dedicated to our role as advocates, particularly at a time when the vulnerability of older adults is clearer than ever before.

Together we can do this. Joyfully.

Thanks for reading

Melanie Young