After three months supported by the team in the Enhanced Supportive Neighbourhood (ESN) at Erin Mills Lodge in Mississauga, Andy Carli is preparing to move to a more permanent Long-Term Care environment able to meet his needs.
It has been an emotional time for Andy’s wife Lucy, who has been caring for her husband with dedication and love since he was diagnosed with dementia at the relatively young age of 65. The last year or so has been increasingly difficult. When Andy was placed in hospital in the fall of 2020, Lucy hoped the specialists there would identify the right medications to help them find a little balance, but this is no easy feat when it comes to the complexity of rapidly advancing dementia.
Still, there was some hope and Lucy was eventually able to bring Andy home, though the balance didn’t seem to last long and the home supports in place were not enough to help her cope. Andy’s expressions grew more worrisome and it was increasingly difficult to meet even his most basic of personal care needs. Andy was again placed in hospital under psychiatric care and while Lucy credits the team there for working hard to offer the best supports possible, it was not enough. Andy needed to be in a home that could meet his needs and offer him dignity while maximizing his potential for quality of life.
In early 2021, Ontario Health officials put the call out to Ontario Long-Term Care Homes looking to free up hospital capacity to manage the influx of serious COVID-19 cases; they were seeking help for people with complex needs like Andy. The team at Erin Mills Lodge answered and since they welcomed their first temporary resident in May, they have seen great success. Two of the 21 residents have since found a permanent home to meet their needs and Andy will be the third.
“I’m very, very happy with the staff and how they treat not only my husband but all the other residents on that floor,” said Lucy when she reflected upon her husband’s first few weeks at Erin Mills Lodge. “They are on top of everything and they answer every question I have; they’re respectful, knowledgeable and professional.”
The dedicated team on the Enhanced Supportive Neighbourhood is simply better equipped than a hospital setting to support people living through such complex health issues, and it shows in the improvements people have made since moving to Erin Mills Lodge.
“The improvements observed by myself and my other two BSO (Behavioural Supports Ontario) colleagues have been enormous, not just focusing on behaviours but also the quality of life and dignity of the patients that have transitioned in,” said Christine Pacheo, Acute Care Behavioural Consultant with Alzheimer Society Peel. “Patients who were struggling within the hospital in regards to their personal care, adherence to hospital norms or time schedules and a lack of purposeful stimulation are now flourishing.”
Lucy said the compassion and expertise she has seen in the team, led by Donna Dalupan and Jefferdie Fiesta, has been critical to her husband’s progress. “They’re willing to just go that extra mile to accommodate and make him comfortable and make me happy,” she said.
The ESN program at Erin Mills Lodge was created quickly in response to a dire need in hospital settings to free up space, but it has since proven to be a model that can help people with complex needs find appropriate care while offering their loved ones some peace of mind. It’s a point of pride for the team there and an example of what’s possible when a combination of compassion and expertise combine in supporting people with complex care needs.