By Trevor Busch
At Taber’s Clearview Lodge, staff and administration have been taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety of some of the area’s most vulnerable residents as southern Alberta progresses through the pandemic.
Additional sanitation considerations have prompted the lodge to hire on more staff in 2020 to complete these vital tasks.
“Several Medical Orders indicated intervals for cleaning and additional Health Care aide services. As well, there were orders that dealt with social distancing for mealtime and recreation activities,” said CAO Tim Janzen with Taber and District Housing Foundation (TDHF). “All of these Orders meant that additional staff were required to complete the duties. Since March 2020, Clearview Lodge has likely added four full-time positions to the daily staffing levels — approximately a 20 per cent increase in staff — and an additional 10 staff have been hired as relief. The concern has always been that a single positive case (resident or staff) could mean many staff be isolated and unable to work.”
Mandatory masking has been in place at the facility for staff working with residents since early in the pandemic.
“Since early May, staff have been required to continuous mask when providing services to residents or when they cannot distance two meters from their co-workers,” said Janzen. “Given the design of Clearview Lodge, there is not much space to distance and therefore most of our staff have been masking throughout their entire shift.”
“Essential visitors” are now allowed access to the lodge, and Janzen explained what that means.
“Recently, Medical Order No. 29 offered an opportunity for ‘safe access’ to residents. Essential visitors are now defined as any two people that are so designated by the resident. Essential visitors are allowed to book an appointment to meet with the resident in their room.”
“Essential visitors are screened at the front door, masked and then escorted to the resident’s room. There is no set time of duration for a visit and no provision for how often visits might occur. Essential visitors are just asked to call to book the time of the visit (403-223-2822 ext. 3) so that the greeter is ready to meet them and hopefully expedite the screening process,” continued Janzen.
“Outside visits and walks can still be arranged with Clearview Lodge staff at the same phone number above.”
While these visits can be facilitated, Janzen pointed out recent survey results indicate many are still uncomfortable with the idea.
“Taber and District Housing Foundation carried out a risk tolerance survey with residents, family members and staff to determine the level of comfort for indoor visits with people other than essential visitors. The results of the survey indicated that most residents, family members and staff were uncomfortable with those types of visits at this time.”
That being said, Janzen said the lodge is working on a plan to facilitate visits through a specialized structure.
“TDHF is working on an alternative to provide a meeting space that will overcome some of the challenges posed by outside visits. We are hoping to construct a small building that will connect to the exterior of Clearview Lodge. This will allow residents to stay inside the lodge and visitors in the building. Because there is a physical barrier between the parties, it would eliminate the need for masking; and being inside will eliminate issues with wind, glare from the sun or temperature extremes. It is hoped that this structure will be ready in September prior to the weather changing.”
Staff have been doing what they can to ensure residents can maintain contact with loved ones.
“The recreation department has posted lots of pictures and videos on Facebook (resident family members have permitted access) of residents at the lodge,” said Janzen. “One particular video was posted at the end of March 2020 and went viral on YouTube with over 5000 hits. The video story was picked up by a number of local news services. The whole point of the video was for residents to show that they are safe and that families should not worry.”