A COVID-19 positive case at Weyburn Special Care Home (WSCH) was not a Christmas present anyone wanted to receive. The care home had been actively preparing for such a scenario, but hoped it would never come. Regardless, all of the preparation allowed the staff to respond quickly and effectively when a positive case was identified in late December 2020.
Their COVID-19 response document was their guide.
“Within the first few hours there were a number of immediate actions that were taken,” explained Debbie Obst, Nurse Manager at WSCH. “The response was well-organized and quickly put into action.”
The following days were full of anxiety and challenges. With the number of staff self-isolating, staffing became a tremendous obstacle. An increase in positive cases following the initial positive test also created a shortage of equipment. The home was able to quickly access additional equipment – blood pressure monitors, thermometers, and oxygen concentrators - through the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA). They were also able to access support from five employees from the SHA’s labour pool.
The home installed an air cleaner during the outbreak, which improved the air quality.
“There was tremendous support within the community as well,” Obst noted. “Staff from the COVID Testing and Assessment site assisted with testing, which helped manage the workload for our nurses. Partners also supported our staff with ongoing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) education. Staff supported each other by engaging in stopping the line with a goal of hazard reduction and keeping the team safe.
“Our entire team pulled together in response to the outbreak,” said Obst. “All departments worked together to ensure that the residents received the care they needed. With dedication, cooperation, flexibility and a willingness to help where needed our team demonstrated true strength as a whole working together.”
Innovation helped with communication.
“Staff initially made phone calls to families and communicated updates via an approved script,” added Obst. “This was effective but soon proved difficult to continue as our resources shifted to resident care. A daily email update to families was created while ensuring that we maintained privacy and confidentiality. This became an efficient means of communicating regularly with resident’s families.”
Appreciation for their efforts was evident by the many messages of thanks staff received. One family placed ice candles outside the home in remembrance of a loved one while showing support for the entire home.
Unfortunately, three residents did pass away due to complications from COVID-19 during the outbreak. However, Weyburn Special Care Home is now in the recovery stage as the outbreak was deemed over as of February 10.
A resident’s family shows their appreciation for Weyburn Special Care Home staff with an ice candle display.