Two homecare workers describe the experience of working at long-term and personal care homes hit hard by COVID-19
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, CUPE joined with other health care unions and the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) to produce several principles for protecting workers, patients and residents. These sets of protocols were especially important for CUPE members who were working in facilities with seniors and other high-risk patients. While fear was common among health care workers, a few CUPE members cast their real fear aside and put their health at risk to help some of the most vulnerable patients in Saskatchewan, by volunteering at some of the most high-risk locations in the province.
Arlene Nyhus lives in Weyburn. For eight years now, she has been working as a continuing care assistant for the SHA. Once the pandemic took hold, and as protocols and policies began changing, some health care workers began losing hours. Other than full time workers who were cohorted or who worked in both long-term care and other services like home care were especially impacted. The fear and worry for the safety of her patients, combined with the uncertainty of getting homecare work began taking its toll on her mental health. But Arlene was determined to keep her spirits high and maintain her high standard of care. “It was challenging because when we go to our client’s homes, we always need to be at our best mental health,” said Nyhus. “We always want to do our best for the client.”