Diary of a Covid Cleaner by Stephen Lew (Board Member Carolyn’s cousin) Stephen Lew, has been a social worker in administration for the City of Toronto forever. He recently accepted optional re-deployment to a long-term care facility in the city. He's mostly cleaning bathrooms. His is a COVID story which really highlights the amazing job that the caregivers do and the commitment they have - the epitome of COVID kindness.
Do you remember the sounds you regularly heard at your normal offices? Maybe it was your cubicle neighbour who constantly made the annoying slurping sounds when they ate their lunch, or perhaps the loud mouth breather from down the hall - noises that maybe made your back arch, or your face scrunch in disgust.
Whatever the sounds were that formed the tapestry of your routine work existence...all that changed with the Stay at Home Orders.
When we transitioned to our home offices, how many had conference calls interrupted by children asking questions, or animals like cats, purring loud enough next to webcam mics to be picked up on your calls while sitting on your keyboard during a meeting?
At my new new Covid-19 office at a Long Term Care Facility (while on temporary, non-mandatory redeployment to assist with the City's Pandemic Response), I heard the chimes the other day.
The chimes are a recorded sound...They are also quite different from the usual announcements we get about keeping social distance, wearing your masks, sanitizing your hands, and all the other Orwellian, post-apocalyptic survival briefings we get that form the fabric of our regular auditory work day.
The chimes tell the staff that a resident who has passed is having their body taken away. Apparently, the chimes are a relatively new thing. It used to be, that when a body was being taken away, they were picked up in the back of the building...away from eyes, away from acknowledgement, near the loading doors where today's bread, and yesterday's garbage are loaded.
There was a move put forward by one of the staff, a Complementary Care Giver and Death Doula, that said that when we enter and leave our homes, we generally use the front door, and for residents at a Long Term Care Facility, this is their home and they should have the dignity and respect of leaving out the front door.
It has taken some time for staff to feel comfortable facing death, quite literally in their face.
When the chimes ring now, staff rush to form a receiving line to say good bye, to hear last words, and to help the body pass under a quilt as a symbolic gesture of departure.
The staff...ALL the staff at facilities like these around the City treat their work with more passion, compassion and commitment than I could ever have thought possible, unwavering and with acknowledged risk of the virus that plagues us all.
Props to all of them.