Pearson was in the news again, this time about the food served to residents. Those of us who have been here awhile remember well when things changed – under Gordon Campbell’s BC Liberal government, starting around 2003 – a LOT of privatization went on. During Campbell’s term as premier of British Columbia from 2001 until 2011, housekeeping, food, laundry, and security services in health care facilities were outsourced to transnational corporations, under the guise of saving money.
This is not meant to blame the workers – they are often poorly paid and expected to do more in less time. And GPC didn’t have a choice in the matter. As with so many things, the actual people responsible have likely long since moved on.
Some residents think the food here is great. Some do not. The desire for a home cooked meal was the driving force behind CARMA’s Community Kitchen, a monthly program of making and sharing excellent food featuring fresh produce.
Sadly, Community Kitchen is on hold during this COVID-19 Pandemic, and sorely missed by residents.
The link to the news article on GPC’s meals is below.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has heralded the widespread use of masks that cover one’s mouth and nose. One unintended consequence that a certain segment of our population is suddenly cut off from understanding others – from the teller at the grocery store to their doctor.
The impact of this on communication is significant. People who rely on reading lips are suddenly cut off from your words. People who use sign language are also inhibited – the face and lips are actually used as part of that language. The immediate impact is on the hearing impaired community. It is worth adding that whenever we exclude one group of people, we are all missing out as they are forced to adapt, to struggle to participate in society. Of course we all benefit from seeing someone’s whole face when communicating, but most of us can get by with hearing someone’s muffled voice.
There are some solutions – the transparent full face shield is one obvious one. As well, some people are making nose and mouth face masks with a vinyl window over the mouth. Perhaps we should all consider wearing one of those? Read more about one student’s project, that was picked up by media, reported here. There are many designs being posted online, including videos on how to make your own, such as here (by Emily, a hearing impaired person).
It has been about two and a half months since Pearson went on ‘lockdown’ due to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. While the ‘new normal’ has become routine, it can still be challenging to adapt to all the restrictions. We know we are keeping each other safe with the precautions in place. Residents miss direct contact with family members. With so few outside visitors, friendships among residents are especially important.
Of course, staff are masked, and this affects communication. For those who are hearing impaired, reading lips can be especially important.
But, we persevere. At least with the warming weather, we can enjoy some sunshine. The Rec staff have been essential in keeping residents connected to the outside world via digital means. We even had our very first virtual Resident Council meeting – and about the same number of participants were able to attend, compared to the days of in-person meetings. Resident Council acknowledged the efforts of everyone who has done what they can to keep the virus out of Pearson, which thankfully it has, so far.
The very popular Garden Club program didn’t start this year (yet), because of the pandemic. We haven’t given up hope that some kind of safe gardening program can serve as Garden Club.
Normally we gather together and plants seeds indoors, at the end of March. Every Tuesday after that it is Garden Club from 2-4pm, until the end of September or so. It is a lively gathering of residents, family members, staff, and volunteers. We marvel at colours, smells, sights and tastes.
But in 2020, we have a pandemic with a dangerous virus. Many Pearson residents have vulnerable health states and so GPC has been on a kind of ‘lockdown’, minimizing visitors and maximizing infection control.
And in the gardens, nature is starting to take over…
Pearson is home to people with vulnerable health states. Some depend on ventilators to breathe. An outbreak of COVID-19 could be devastating here. We hope it doesn’t happen, and VCH is assuring us they are taking all the precautions necessary to prevent it from coming to GPC.
They are allowing immediate family members still to visit, thankfully, but to visit only their relative, and not to wander around the facility. We already have hand sanitizer by every door, and all visitors are reminded to stay away if they have any symptoms.
Temporary Visitation Guidelines have been established that limit visits to “essential visitors” only. Essential visitors include compassionate visits for end-of-life, as well as visits that support resident care plans, such as assisting with feeding and/or mobility.
I have been emailing with residents who have email and will share the words of one resident: “very odd new reality.. thanks universe for the fine weather as going outside is sanity making and sanitary”
A recent article caught my eye – a very familiar, colourful plastic toy being used to create wheelchair ramps! Now, I don’t know how confident we are that the weight of a power wheelchair and its user would be supported (around 500 lbs). But it sure is a neat idea – a ramp that could be make out of reusing lego blocks – in such cheery colours!
January’s community kitchen happened during Lunar New Year this year, so we decided to make a Chinese themed meal. We might have gone a little overboard with the number of dishes – but everyone got pretty excited and there were so many suggestions!
We ended up with this menu:
Potstickers (shrimp and chicken)
Fried fish with homemade sweet and sour sauce
Chinese Tomato Egg Stir-fry
Ma Po Tofu (beef)
Fried Rice (veg)
Chow Mein (veg)
Dessert was Mango Pudding!
Much thanks to volunteer Chris who made the mango pudding in advance and was so helpful with sourcing the wontons and potstickers (we didn’t have time to make those ourselves).
It was a feast. We made lots of food so folks could have seconds (and thirds!). “Another delicious meal,” said one participant. “Finally, something with spice and flavour!” said another resident. We don’t always do spicy dishes, but when so many options, we made the Ma Po Tofu dish with some decent spice levels and it was a real winner!
We just had another successful ‘Gift Giving Event’. This is the second year we have organized this event on its own. Years ago we started doing it as part of our annual Christmas party but it just got too big, too much to do both. The concept turned out to be popular.
The idea is that the CARMA team provides a selection of items laid out on tables, at the right level for a person in a wheelchair to view. We buy, or acquire through donations, a big range of items from chocolates, scarves, bracelets to kids items. Residents wheel around all the tables, with a volunteer to help them shop – though everything is free, they get to browse and choose gifts to give loved ones. Then we have a gift wrapping area and card writing section. Residents come away with cards and gifts to give or mail to friends and family.
Many residents do not shop much out in the community – the barriers to regular shopping are both physical (wheelchair doesn’t fit into store aisles) and emotional (it can be uncomfortable to deal with able bodied folks with no patience for you). As well, the time it takes to go out to a shopping area can take the whole day, which can be exhausting. Online shopping works for some, but it is still nice to be able to see an item up close before deciding to get it as a gift.
One of the things that can happen to a person who starts receiving care and has little opportunity to give is that they miss giving. It is an essential part of being human. It feels good to give. This event may be simple and small but the effect can be profound. A resident who was sending gifts to all her grandkids expressed such joy in selecting gifts for each child, and labeling the wrapped gift with their name. She said “This year, the grandkids will be so excited to see a gift from Grandma! It makes me so happy”.
There have been some windy days lately and some of the heavy bean trellises have been blown over. No matter, it’s time to clean them up anyhow. While we leave the leeks, kale and carrots in the ground for harvest later – most things are cut down and composted and the beds put to ‘rest’.
And this year we grew popcorn! Not a vast amount, but a nice colourful bunch.
Today we attended a memorial for a fine woman who had resided at Pearson since the 1980s – Jackie B.
It is usually the case that you learn something new about a person at their memorial. Sometimes you wish they were still here so you could talk to them about it. But you know that you can’t know everything about anyone, and we must accept that sometimes it’s after they are gone that you learn something new, and it’s another way to remember them.
I learned today that Jackie loved the beach and swimming in the ocean. She didn’t get to do much of that after her accident but she still loved it. It’s nice to know that about her.
One thing I know about her is that she loved sweet peas. She had a garden here at GPC and that’s mostly what she wanted to grow. Sweet peas have the most heavenly fragrance but they last only briefly once cut.
Jackie was a straight shooter with an excellent sense of humour. We will miss her dearly.
Her obituary is here: https://www.dignitymemorial.com/en-ca/obituaries/vancouver-bc/jasmin-balleny-8788695