Palliser resident likes comfort of current home, not proposed options

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The thoughts and the opinions I express are based on my experienced and talking to other residents, and do not come from any employee of the Palliser.

Recently the Palliser was on 'lock-down' status due to an outbreak of an unknown respiratory illness on the second floor. Since third floor was unaffected, we were free to come to the main floor but not to leave the building. A 'No Visitors' sign was also posted.

It was strange to come down to the dining room for a meal and find the tables were half empty. The main floor was very quiet, empty and almost eerie. There was no entertainment in the afternoons, as the usual groups were not allowed to enter the building. The lack of people and a regular schedule made the days very long and boring.

I realized that this was how it was going to be when we are in the new facility that they are planning to build. There will only be 10 or 12 residents in each building and we can only hope that we can form a bond with some of them. Some may be too ill so they must spend their days in bed, and some will be unaware of their surroundings and can no longer connect with anyone. There might even be the ones we 'can't stand' or they 'can't stand' us. Out of a small group of people, we can only hope to make new friends.

There will be fewer staff working around us and it seems that they will be expected to cook, clean, stock supplies, wash clothes, provide entertainment; move the residents from one place to another, and any other thing that needs to be done. Somewhere they must find the time to wash, dress, and toilet the residents.

I can see the days and evenings being very long and feeling lonely and isolated. With fewer residents in each building, there will be fewer people visiting here with their pets and children.

I suppose when we have made a few trips around the common area we could go to our rooms and pay homage to our bathrooms. They seem to be the focal point of the new facility and one of the main reasons given for the need of a new building. It does not seem to register with the planners, that most of the residents will be unable to use the bathroom without assistance.

I did a quick count of how many residents on the north end of the third floor who could use the toilet unassisted. Of the 23 people here, only four are that independent, and two will sometimes call for help. If residents are sitting on a sling or unable to walk, it takes two staff members and a mechanical lift to transfer them to the toilet. Ten residents are in this category. If you are unaware of your surroundings or if your upper body must be totally supported by a special chair, you could not safety be placed on the toilet. There are nine people in this category. I assume that the remaining 67 residents in the Palliser will divide in much the same ratio for being able to use the bathroom. Keep in mind that we are not going to get better, but our condition will continue to deteriorate.

We are told that this will be our new home and the aim is to make it more home-like. The residents have a few thoughts of how this could be done. These are some of our concerns.

- We are worried about the openness of the bedrooms as we would not like to have other residents come wandering in when we are not there.

- We are concerns about the bathrooms in each room, as most residents cannot use them. We prefer a bath in a tub to having water sprayed on us in a shower. Individual toilets cannot be used by most of us without the help of two staff members.

- We now wear terry cloth bibs to protect our clothing when we eat. Fancy cloth napkins are being introduced to replace the bibs. These are hard to keep in place and the material they are made of is rough and not very absorbent. The residents prefer to keep the bibs and have no problem wearing them. It is very had to get a chocolate or a ketchup stain out of clothing.

- We are worried that the therapy program will be discontinued. If it is, the healing and comfort we get when or stiff limbs are stretched will vanish as well as maintaining the resident's mobility by helping them to stand and walk.

- We would like an accessible yard with trees, grass and a walkway. The area needs to be large enough that we don't have to share the space with the smokers. We spend many hours outside in the summer and greatly enjoy our flowers, yard and garden.

- How will groups come to entertain us when we will be so scattered? How will we visit our friends when they are in a far off house? Will the library still bring books for us when there is so few in each place? Could the food be cooked in our own kitchen to improve the quality and cut down on the amount of food going into the garbage? Could we wash our own linen again?

These are some of the questions we have.

I comment the planners for wishing to enhance our living experience. This could be done immediately by hiring a crew to wash our windows inside and out, and keep them clean. This would give the residents great joy. Many of the blinds on the windows are not working. Summer is coming and we need our blinds. The cement on the back patio was destroyed this winter by the salt that was used. It is very hard to move the wheel chairs over it. We would appreciate if these matters could be fixed.

As you have probably guessed, I am not excited about moving to the proposed new facility. There is much to appreciate about the Palliser. It has been my home for over 23 years. I like the high ceilings, the wide hallways, the large windows, and the areas on the main floor where we can all gather. There are also places where you can have private parties. Our back yard is beautiful with its trees, walkways, flower beds and garden. The sunroof means we can spend countless hours outdoors in the fresh air.

The building itself has stood the test of time. The architecture is still pleasing to the eye. A Fire Chief once called it "the safest building in Swift Current." Yes, it could use a little maintenance and there is a perceived lack of toilets. But even after nearly 50 years, the roof does not leak.

Sonja Fortney - Swift Current

Geographic location: Swift Current

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