Humans of Cold Lake

#ColdLakeLockout

“I moved my father to Points West Living Cold Lake so he could be closer to me and my family. We loved him so much and wanted him nearer. After my initial interview with the Points West Living manager, I felt it was a good facility. Within two weeks of moving my dad into Points West Living he had fallen numerous times and broken his ankle, never to walk again. The facility, from the beginning, was always short staffed. Many times I would see staff literally sweating from physical exhaustion, running back and forth between assisting residents, cleaning, as well as nursing and kitchen duties. Crisis management created a chaotic environment that made residents and family members anxious.

“After six months I knew my dad needed to move. He continued to fall, cleanliness–of both the facility and the residents—continued to be an issue, and the understaffing continued. I believe the staff of Points West Living need to be treated better and it is important that they stand up to their employer.”

“No. It’s not easy. Since day one it’s been a struggle, and we knew it would be. Everything worthwhile usually is. Changing the way private-for-profit health care works is no small undertaking. Not that we started out with aspirations this big, but the more you learn about the system the more invested in change you become. When you really care about the quality of life for people who cannot speak for themselves, then you become their advocate. People are always remarking on the temperature, the holidays, the time of year. Saying, “Wow, that’s sacrifice, that’s dedication.” That’s true, and it’s also not true.

“It’s luck.

“We’re lucky enough to have found something we as a group feel strongly enough about that we would give priority to these people we care for over the holidays, over our families, over our discomfort in the cold, over a reliable pay cheque. There aren’t a lot of people who are lucky enough to feel as passionately about anything as we do about what we are doing. We will never have to look back and wish we did more. And here’s to hoping that when or if we ever get to a stage where we require help with our daily living needs, there will be people out there who care for us the way we care for our residents. Here’s to hoping they are able to provide us with the kind of care everyone deserves because of a change in the system that we played a part in.”

“It’s been the better part of a month since the lockout began. I’ve been having a hard time leaving the picket line, I want to be there all the time. I want the residents to know that I’m trying so hard to come back to them. Today I was out there from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. I have gone too many days without seeing those friendly faces whom I love.

“I get so happy when a resident comes out and visits us. It makes my motivation grow stronger. The replacement workers are making the residents stay in their rooms all day and night, they’re making them eat in their rooms all alone. Triple the staff and they still can’t wash the dishes. They’re also unable to get some people showered. Today we heard that there were five replacement workers up on the second floor, but it smelt like urine and stool and garbages weren’t taken out for a week. All the scabs were in the TV room, neglecting our residents.

“I can’t imagine what the residents are going through or feeling. It makes me cry. They deserve so much more than this. It took everything in me to not go inside those doors today. I haven’t taken a day off yet. I feel closer to them when I’m on the line. As soon as I leave the picket line I’m missing it, I’m missing being close to them and potentially seeing them. The residents are lonely and crying for us. But yet when we tell the replacement workers that, they laugh. I was raised to treat my elders with respect. Apparently they weren’t. Every day this lockout gets harder and harder. Every day I’m getting more motivated. I miss you guys.”