Making the decision to move a family member into a long term care facility is always difficult.
Deciding to do so at the start of a worldwide coronavirus pandemic was all the more difficult for the Hamlin family.
Family matriarch, Norma, celebrated her 99th birthday on November 8, 2020 in her new home at Langley Memorial Hospital’s Rosewood long term care home, following a tumble serious enough for her to need hospital care and for her family to have a serious discussion about her long term and specialized care needs.
“She was in her own place - we’d take turns living with her - but she had a fall just after St. Patrick’s Day and was in the hospital for three weeks,” recalls Norma’s daughter, Kate Wright.
“We tried to put it off as long as we could,” noted Kate’s brother, Jack Hamlin. But when her condition started to badly deteriorate after the fall, Jack and his two siblings had to face facts.
Between the pre-existing diagnosis of dementia and the deterioration after the fall, Jack, Kate and their brother Jim, who lives in Calgary, realized admitting Norma into a Langley care facility as soon as released from her medical recovery from her fall would be the safest choice for her future health.
“There comes a time when you realize - when you know - she’ll be better off in a place where they can give her full time care,” Jack says.
Kate and Jack remember how hard it was for all of them - especially because Norma didn’t really want to be in long term care.
“It was really difficult for her, and for us,” Kate says, noting the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting restrictions did not make the transition any easier.
“Everybody had a hard time with it - when she says ‘I don’t want to be here, I want to go home to my house,’ it can be so hard.”
The challenges brought on by the pandemic only increased the Hamlin family’s respect and appreciation for staff at Rosewood, one of Langley Memorial Hospital’s four long term care facilities, and for the level of care their mother has been receiving there.
“The people who work there are absolute saints,” says Jack who notes that some of the care staff have even taken to calling her by the family’s nickname, Mama Lou.
“Whatever we need, they’re happy to do it. They’ve managed to keep COVID-19 at bay - knock on wood - and go out of their way to help, even with all the COVID-19 rules and restrictions.”
“They’re really all so great (at Rosewood),” Kate agrees. “It’s so clean there, they’re always cleaning - they’ve all really helped make the transition easier during such a difficult time.”
When she moved from the medical unit at the hospital into Rosewood, Kate says the care and medical staff were also extremely helpful throughout the transition.
“They kept us informed at all times - we had a meeting with all the doctors and staff and they went through everything with us,” she says.
One thing that really helps keep the spirits up for everyone in the family, is the regular window visits. With Norma’s room at street level, family members are able to visit with her from the street every day if they want.
“We got Mom a phone so we can talk to her while we see her - the staff are great, they’ll always help her if she needs it,” Jack says, noting how Norma brightens right up when she is visited by Jack and his wife Gisele or Kate and her husband Greg, and especially when her grandchildren and great-grandchildren visit through the window.
Thanks to an iPad donated through LMHF, Norma can also enjoy regular FaceTime sessions with her son Jim, his wife Jodi, and their family in Calgary.
“One thing my Mom really misses is not being able to get her hair done,” Kate notes.
“She misses her curls - every time (she’s on FaceTime) she’ll say ‘Who’s that old bat in the corner? Take that off of there!’”
While Norma’s children still struggle with the separation, all three remain grateful their Mom is in such good hands.
“She has her good days and her bad,” says Jack.
“You see and hear all these stories in the news about COVID and patients in long term care homes and we’re just so relieved she’s in a place like Rosewood - they are so kind to us, and to Mom. Whatever she needs, they take care of it right away. We really can’t say enough how much we appreciate all they do for her, every day.”