COVID-19 has changed everything for Rhonda Sloane and others on LOFT’s Behavioural Support Transition Resource team.
As a psychogeriatric case manager working in two North Toronto hospitals, Rhonda supports seniors with behavioural issues and mental illnesses, helping to stabilize the patient’s behaviour, serving as a patient advocate and supporting the patient’s transition to a new hospital unit or care home.
Information-gathering is a big part of the job. She speaks with the client, their family and hospital staff to get a full picture of behaviours and triggers so she can make results-based decisions and plans. She describes her role as part private investigator. The pandemic means she works in full PPE, which is a must in hospitals that are treating COVID-19 patients.
With seniors being especially vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, protecting her clients’ health while advocating for their rights and needs has been critical. In the first month of the pandemic, Rhonda worked closely with hospital staff to provide solutions to client behaviours that keep both clients and staff safe.
Another big change: The number of clients she supports. Where Rhonda typically had about 12 clients to care for before the pandemic, her caseload has jumped to 28. “We’ve never stopped during the pandemic,” she says. “Our patients are often misunderstood, and we are all they have.”
Like many health care providers and her LOFT colleagues, Rhonda has also had to make significant personal sacrifices. She went 13 weeks without seeing her spouse and two sons to ensure she wouldn’t bring COVID-19 home. And she continues to avoid grocery shopping and patios to protect the public.
Despite the very real risk, she knows the care she provides clients is important. “One of the most meaningful parts of this job is knowing we are there for the forgotten.”
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