Tracy Thompson spent nearly two months living in the seniors home she works in, with the goal of keeping her residents safe.
In the 55 days she lived in the seniors home that is part of Harbour Landing Village in Regina, not once did she go to her own home. She only saw her husband and son a few times from a safe physical distance.
“My son turned 15 during quarantine. That sucked,” said Thompson, who is the director of leasing and client relations for Harbour Landing Village. Her husband is also an essential worker, so her son was alone at home for many of those days.
“It was really hard on me to see how hard it was on him … That was probably the hardest part.”
But with her work keeping her busy interacting with the around 70 residents, Thompson said she hardly had time to miss her family.
Her days started early and ended late, and her job became a compilation of anything that needed to get done, from making sure all staff members had their temperatures checked after their shifts to cleaning washrooms.
“Life at the Village was so busy that a lot of times you didn’t get a chance to miss your family until you were laying in bed at night,” she said.
A couple of other senior staff members also lived in the seniors home for those 55 days, each staying in their own suite.
Now that the home has settled into its new rhythm with the COVID-19 pandemic, Thompson has moved back home and is now sleeping in the home on a rotation with other staff, staying there for a few days and then staying at home for a few days.
In the first few weeks of the pandemic though, Thompson said she is glad she was living with the residents.
“In the beginning days, it was scary … We didn’t know what it was going to look like. Everyone was very scared of, ‘What happens if we get it? What happens if I get it?’
“There was a lot of fears just for our staff, let alone for our residents, so having us there, showing that we were there and supporting them 24 hours a day made a huge difference.”
Especially as reports came in on the news of staff in other seniors homes in North America abandoning their work as COVID-19 swept through the facilities, Thompson wanted her residents to know she wasn’t going anywhere.
Gladys Kram is one of the residents at Harbour Landing Village. She said knowing there was always a staff member nearby was comforting.
“It just gives us a little more security because they’re sacrificing in order to be staying here … and we do appreciate that,” she said.
“I don’t feel that I’m lacking anything.”
Janson Anderson, president and CEO of Harbour Landing Village, also lived at the seniors home on weekdays, only going home to visit his family on weekends.
When the pandemic first hit Saskatchewan in mid-March, Anderson said the situation was changing so rapidly he couldn’t go back and forth normally between work and home anyway. He figured it would be more efficient just to live there for a time.
“There were a lot of new developments every single day — new directions, new public health orders, new preventative measures — and those things were at times 24 hours a day that those things could come up,” he said.
As the days turned into weeks, Anderson said it became as much about supporting the staff as it was about protecting the residents.
Being separated from his family for much of the week was difficult, but Anderson said he appreciated the chance to get to know all of the residents on a deeper level.
“In some weird ways, the pandemic has kind of brought everyone together.”