Kelowna woman fears mother won't recognize her again if long term care rules don't change - InfoNews

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Kelowna woman fears mother won't recognize her again if long term care rules don't change

Image Credit: Pikist
September 08, 2020 - 6:00 AM

The damage being done because of the COVID-19 lockdown of long term care homes in B.C. extends far beyond the residents themselves and deep into the hearts of their families.

For Kelowna’s Brenda Heide, the body blow came earlier this week when, at the age of 61, she used a chair to climb over a three-foot high wall for a window visit with her 85-year-old mother, Rose.

She’d had such visits a number of times before during the COVID-l9 lockdown. She would phone ahead and have a staff member open the window the meagre three inches that it could move and chat with Rose.

It had been a couple of weeks since her last visit when she arrived on Monday.

Her mother promptly walked over, shut the window, closed the blinds and, “in no uncertain terms,” ordered Heide away.

“She’s blind in one eye and has Alzheimer’s but she’s always known me in the past and known I’m a familiar face,” Heide told “She got quite upset. It was disheartening to say the least.”

Heide is one of many victims of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s rule that only one family member is allowed to visit a resident of a long term care home. Heide’s father is the designated visitor.

Heide is being generous by describing her reaction as disheartening.

“I couldn’t even drive,” she said. “I pulled over and cried for about an hour. It hit me hard because you never know how many days, how many months, your loved one will still have some recognition of you. To have that now taken away, to think that she may never recognize me again – I don’t know if that’s the case but that's what hit me so hard.”

It’s been tough on her father as well.

“She knows we belong in her life,” Heide said. “She loves to be hugged. It’s really difficult because he’s not supposed to but the staff member who has facilitated his visits has turned away and let him do what he wants, sometimes.”

Heide pointed out that, when the one visitor rule was put in place in July, there were promises made that it would be reviewed in August and possibly be expanded to allow more visitors. That has not happened.

All that has happened is that Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie has put out a survey asking residents in long term care homes and their families to let her know about their experiences.

READ MORE: Seniors' lives depend on changing COVID lockdowns in B.C. care homes: Seniors advocate

Results of the survey won’t be out until the end of October and there’s no word of any changes being made before – or after – that happens.

Heide was fine when the lock down of long term care homes was first imposed. Like everyone else, she was concerned for the safety of residents.

“Now it has gone on for five months,” she said. “We’ve flattened the curve. I just want to see changes.”

In the meantime, she’ll take a few days to steady her nerves and climb that wall again. This time, at least, she’ll be prepared for a possible rejection.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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