Life in lockdown: Meals in a box, no outside visitors for many in seniors' home

·3 min read

A resident in a Victoria assisted living facility says the return to stringent COVID-19 prevention measures is leading to increased anxiety and isolation for the seniors who live there.

Judith Hodgson lives with her husband, Camil Dufort, at Ross Place Retirement Residence, where she says everyone has been asked to stay in their suites.

"Our meals come to the door in boxes, not always warm," she said. "Many of us have no 'essential visitor,' and many of us will not see family or a friend at Christmas. But we all hope this will help COVID numbers to go down."

Hodgson's concerns echo those raised in two separate reports released this month by the B.C. Care Providers Association and by British Columbia's Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie.

Terry Lake, CEO of the B.C. Care Providers Association, says there have been no cases to date of visitors bringing COVID-19 into long-term care.

Mackenzie urged easing visitor restrictions after a survey by her office found the restrictions were harming the health of long-term care home residents.

In an interview with CBC On the Island host Gregor Craigie, Hodgson said that over the summer months, when COVID-19 cases declined and restrictions eased, residents enjoyed increased freedom and renewed social connections.

"We went back to the dining rooms. There were only two at a table," Hodgson said. "We resumed some exercises in hallways and some people went out to visit with families and friends."

Judith Hodgson
Judith Hodgson

Those days of relative freedom ended with the arrival of B.C.'s second wave of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Hodgson worries about the loneliness of her fellow residents. Many are in their 90s or older and are missing the ability to visit with family members. Others are heartbreakingly alone.

Hodgson said neighbours in the building try to support each other through phone calls, elbow bumps when they meet in the hallway, and small, distanced happy-hour dates.

But she said it's hard to summon the energy and optimism that helped get her through the first wave of the pandemic.

The couple is also coping with a non-COVID-related health setback, after Dufort, 88, suffered a small stroke.

"For three days I haven't been out except to pick up my mail and I'm kind of a social person. And so I'm finding it really difficult," she said.

"All I want for Christmas is a hug."

Judith Hodgson
Judith Hodgson

She would also like to talk to an anti-mask protester.

"We just want to meet one of these people who refuses to wear a mask and talks about their personal freedom, and bring them in to live in a facility for a week and see what they would think," Hodgson said.

"They are thinking about their freedom," she said. "Well, I think my rights end where yours begin, I'll put it that way."

To listen to the full interview with Judith Hodgson, tap the link below:

With files from CBC Radio On The Island