The dementia ward at the Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital is scheduled for closure within one year. I don’t know who, or how, decisions like this are made. I do know that for those of us that have loved ones diagnosed with this disease, our world is turned upside down.
Now, there is a gut wrenching feeling in the pit of my stomach as a whole new set of questions are raised: Where will all of those patients go? Will those who look after them understand this disease? Will they be adequately trained to deal with the specific challenges of dementia sufferers?
All patients deserve dignity, patience and understanding. Dementia patients experience anger, frustration and are often disoriented. The staff on the Dementia Care Unit (DCU) at LPH are specifically trained to handle our loved ones with this disease and do so with discretion rather than harsh words, being rough or pushy.
My concern is that untrained staff will not have the experience or knowledge to deal with a difficult situation and this may lead to patients being legally incarcerated and held in lock up. We all know this is not the fault of the patient – these individuals are sick – that is why they are in the dementia care unit.
The staff at the LPH are totally amazing. There are no pressures. They have daily routines to follow and the patients don’t always comply, so maybe one simple task will take an entire day to complete; but eventually it gets done. This is only one example of a time where the training to know when to back off, the compassion to keep trying, and the pride of success, excels. The custodial, office, rec and OT staff are also so patient and kind – they all go the extra mile. Their love and concern helps me, on a daily basis, to deal with the separation from my husband.
It is difficult enough to watch our loved ones go from being perfectly functional people to having to have someone do the most private tasks for them. The staff does this without hesitation or reservation.
There are treatment centers designed for drug addiction, alcoholism, cancer – why isn’t there a plan for patients suffering from dementia?
Behavioral diseases are not something you can choose. It can happen to any one of us, at anytime. We need to have a facility for people with behavioral problems, staffed by properly trained individuals.
Dementia is not going away.
For all of you who took part in the decision to close the DCU at LPH, I hope your world never gets turned upside down because your loved one is diagnosed with a behavioral disease. Because, when the doors get locked at LPH, that person that you care so much about will have missed out on the best care possible. Those nurses and staff at LPH are surrogating “us” when we can’t be there. This action will not only be detrimental to the patients, but also to all the family members who love them as they are.
I, and the many others who have loved ones on the DCU at the LPH, beg you to reconsider this decision. Don’t take away their home. Change in their world is extremely harmful to them.