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”