We’ve all been there. Getting a gift you don’t like and have to pretend you do. It’s awkward and uncomfortable but you put a smile on your face and hope the awkwardness diminishes quickly. Strangely, this is what the world of caregiving feels like right now.
This was supposed to be a happy holiday-themed post but I’m afraid it won’t be. It’s tough out here people. As I am writing this I am living the same day we’ve all lived what feels like a hundred times over these past two years. Ford just announced capacity and gathering limits dropping drastically. Boosters are opening up for everyone. ICUs are at risk of being overwhelmed. Universities moved classes for the new year online. Schools are delaying starting back up after the break. Lockdown looming.
You know the drill.
I think I have handled these changes pretty well in the past. But this time it feels different. To me at least, it feels a lot scarier and a heck of a lot more sad. I am always a glass-half-full person. I am always looking for the good and searching for the hope. But these new variants are making it really hard for me.
Over these past few months at work, we’ve had such a taste of normal life back. And boy, it has been sweet. Residents got back going to church and recreational activities. Visitors were allowed in the home. In person, meetings resumed. Visits with their families became more frequent and less controlled. Staff could work in multiple homes and support all the people they love.
I have witnessed a change in the residents and this can only be described as joy. A joy that their world’s expanded beyond the four walls of our home.
“Finally! We are in the home stretch! We’ve done the hardest part!” Or so we thought.
Then comes today.
The news of Omicron is scary news. While we are vaccinated, I think this is the scariest news yet for our group home. I can feel the hope we’ve been holding onto for the past two years starting to shrink. Our eyes and hearts are becoming more hopeless and less hopeful.
Should there be a point when we let go of the hope of a ‘normal’ world? Should we be starting to accept that new cases and variants are the normal world now? How do we enjoy any sense of normalcy if there is always a risk of another lockdown? The world will never be the same as it once was but is this era of fear and tragedy eternal?
My stress and discomfort from this recent bad COVID news selfishly stem strictly from my worries about the residents and staff at my group home. We’ve made the most of pretty much nothing for the past two years and I’m worried that our ability to do so is depleting.
We’ve gotten that sweet taste of normalcy and we’re just anticipating it being ripped away from us very soon. It’s nearly impossible to explain this situation to residents because the situation is ever-changing. Just as we’re getting used to one re-opening phase, rules change, we change phases, we move forward, we move backward, it’s ever-changing yet it is the same day over and over and over again. The same day waiting for all of this to be over. The same day realizing it may never be over.
Christmas is right around the corner and we were gearing up for a safe holiday get-together at work. Plans cancelled. Residents had plans to go home. Plans that are now undetermined and more controlled. People all over the world had feelings of a normal holiday season within reach and now we are exactly where we were last year.
Sorry if this post seems a little heavy but that’s what I am carrying right now. I am blessed to work in a great place with great people so we will persist because we have to. We don’t have a choice. The ministry gives us guidelines and we will oblige because we need to keep everyone safe. No matter how heavy it seems, we don’t have a choice.
Just this week staff are now required to take a rapid test twice a week and residents will be required to test before, after and periodically throughout any overnight visits out of the home. And any visitor who enters the home must also do a rapid test at the door before entering. This makes sense as this new variant is running rampant. BUT it’s just another thing. That is the only way I can describe it.
Another thing that takes up time and energy. Another thing without an end date. Another thing that changes our routine. Another thing that makes our home feel more like a hospital. Disinfecting, regulations, PPE, testing, temperature taking and screening take up a lot of energy. All these things are piled on top of each other everyday and at time they can feel like they are crushing us. Rapid testing is another thing in this pile that takes up emotional energy that we don’t always have.
So this rapid test gift from the ministry is a gift we don’t like. In fact, we don’t like any of it. But just like opening a gift you don’t like, we try our best to just smile, trust the virus will go away because of these extra precautions and hope the uncomfortable situation diminishes quickly.
We signed up to be caregivers and even though the job is taking more time and energy than it ever has before, we still show up. Because we have to. Because that’s what you do for the people you love.
Follow along to hear all about the ups and downs in direct support work, young adult life, and allyship – it sure has given me lots to write about! Enjoy some casual, light-hearted tales about all my adventures along the way.