Despite Isolation, Families Find Ways to Stay Connected

Laurie Dolph in her backyard
Laurie Dolph

“I miss my dad a lot,” said Laurie Dolph, whose father Jim Dolph is a resident at United’s Garrison Green community. Laurie is used to spending time there four or five times a week, and volunteers running movie nights and hosting regular community sing-a-longs with Jim.

“My family is really close, and the priority for us is dad. He’s in good health, but there are some who aren’t so everyone is concerned about keeping this virus away from the community and the residents.”

Jim watches TV and enjoys painting, but admits that life isn’t the same. “Our way of life has changed quite a bit,” said Jim. “I miss being with my family, going out to restaurants and going for drives. We can walk around the neighbourhood, but the other recreational parts of life are restricted. I think we’re all fighting cabin fever, but we all understand why it’s necessary. Everyone is staying healthy.”

Jim Dolph with one of his many paintings
Jim Dolph with one of his many paintings

Laurie is very impressed with the procedures United has put in place. “United is giving residents and families lots of communication and a lot of heads-up about changes and why they are doing them. I’m very impressed with the food services staff who are very good at explaining things to residents. Garrison is really the best place for him right now. They are doing an excellent job at keeping everyone safe.”

Programs have been cancelled for the time being, and United will reassess as the situation changes. Residents who enjoy working in the art studio or who wish to exercise will be able to work on projects in their suites with the support of staff.

“We phone dad every day, and he phones us,” said Laurie. “I think that’s one of the best ways to stay in touch because we get to hear his voice. He doesn’t use Skype or Apple’s FaceTime, because he doesn’t use that technology, but that would also be a great way to stay in touch.”

Jim Dolph shows off his paintings with his daughter and grandson
Jim Dolph, his daughter and grandson, show off his paintings

Laurie says another way people can stay in touch is to drop off treats. Even though visitor restrictions are in place, doing errands and dropping off special items are other ways to make a difference.

“My dad loves his port, so I found a special bottle for him and dropped it with someone at the entrance where it was sanitized and given to him. He and others enjoy the special effort. And I can wave at him, even though I would like to give him a hug!”

“And my granddaughter dropped off a beautiful bag with my favourite beer and cheese. I’m being well looked after!” said Jim.

“I’m not worried about him, I know he’s in the best, safest place right now. I trust that he is getting the best care there,” said Laurie.

Laurie has special praise for the staff. “They are really going above and beyond, and it’s really something that they are giving my dad and others the care they need while not always being able to be near their own families. They have become an important part of our family.”

Laurie has some advice for people who are also having to remain distant from their families. “If you’re feeling down, do something nice for  someone else. Take them treats, or find something special to do for them. You’ll find it will also lift your own spirits.”

Jim agrees. “We can’t be selfish and think only about ourselves. Listen to the health professionals, and think about others. We need to care about each other. This situation can either bring out the best or the worst in us. You have a choice. Nothing can be gained by bringing out the worst, but being your best can benefit everyone.”

Photos by United Active Living, Laurie Dolph. Videos by Sherana Productions.

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