Donna Pasiechnik considers herself lucky. When she got a temporary layoff notice on Monday, she knew it meant she could do something not many others can do: bring her father home.
Pasiechnik's father Joseph recently moved to a care home in Invermay, Sask. after a lengthy stay in hospital in Yorkton. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about three and a half years ago and just starting to get used to his new place when the pandemic broke out.
"We'd become more and more concerned about his risk as an 87-year-old man living in a communal setting," she said. "We'd been watching the news and really worried about losing him."
News from other provinces shows that if COVID-19 gets into a care home, it can be devastating.
Pasiechnik's concern didn't have to do with the level of care at his Invermay home. She praised staff there for the kindness and support they showed her and her family.
Pasiechnik knew she would be off work for at least three months, so after some conference calls with her family and difficult decisions — but ultimately her husband's blessing — she left her home in Regina to move in with her mom and dad in Canora, Sask. to help care for her father.
I know they're trying to do everything to keep residents connected with their families through technology, but it's hard. It's really hard. - Donna Pasiechnik
The thought of losing her father and not being able to see him was unimaginable for Pasiechnik and her family. He had even started to deteriorate near the outset of the pandemic, when they shut down the home and visitors weren't allowed anymore. Pasiechnik's mom used to visit him almost every day, spending the afternoon.
"We were finding a rhythm. But once we were no longer able to do that, my dad went into a deep depression and we were really concerned about his mental health and what this would do to him," she said. "It's going to be a challenge I'm sure."
Pasiechnik knows not everyone has this opportunity. Right now, she is just taking it one day at a time and trying to settle into a routine.
"I know not all families have this option available to them and I just felt heartbroken yesterday picking dad up and seeing these folks in the home kind of left behind," she said.
"I know they're trying to do everything to keep residents connected with their families through technology, but it's hard. It's really hard."