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LETTER: ‘We too loved them’: a care aide’s message to families who lost seniors to COVID

'This virus took them so tragically when they still had so much life to live,' a care aide writes of a COVID-19 outbreak at Capilano Care Centre in late 2020 that claimed the lives of at least 24 residents.
Capilano Care Centre web
"We tried our best to hold as many hands as we could," a care aide writes in her open letter to the families of loved ones lost to COVID-19 at West Vancouver's Capilano Care Centre during an outbreak near the end of 2020.

Dear Editor:

I am writing on behalf of the amazing second-floor team at West Vancouver’s Capilano Care Centre. I have been a care aide at Cap Care for decades.

It’s very hard to write this because we took care of our residents as our own. Cap Care has mostly staff who have been there 25+ years.

We never change units. Day in day out, ours are the faces [residents] see going to bed and ours are the faces they see upon waking.

I want to give some comfort to the families who lost loved ones. We too loved them. We cried every day upon coming on shift. This virus took them so tragically when they still had so much life to live.

There is no blame to put on anyone except this invisible enemy. One resident got it and unknowingly spread it through the unit. One by one, almost every single resident got infected.

Many died.

Our managers rolled up their sleeves and helped us every which way they could.

We tried our best to hold as many hands as we could. But while residents were dying, many others were very, very sick, and needed so much care.

We made decisions on who to prioritize care with, and I am haunted by some decisions that I made because a resident died overnight while I promised myself that I would do more for him the next day. He didn’t make it through the night.

 No one could predict how many staff would also fall ill, and take it home to their families, myself included. My family were so angry with me, but I told them if I don’t take care of them, who will?

My residents know me. Even through my PPE they knew who we were.

COVID ravaged my unit. We are left with a very empty unit, but our loss is nothing compared to what the families are going through.

I am very proud of the team I work with. Every morning we came in and lifted each other up. No one ever complained. It was just “let’s take care of them the best we can, because we are all they have.”

My heart is very heavy when I walk past an empty room, but then I see the residents who recovered because of the care our whole team gave them, and it warms my heart.

I am proud to work at Capilano Care Centre.

Kim Manhas