Kyla has been a Continuing Care Assistant (CCA) in the long-term care sector for the past five years.
The past year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic have been difficult on Kyla and her colleagues.
After a difficult start, things got better as PPE became more readily available for workers like Kyla and wasn’t locked away. Co-horting - the assignment of one staff member to one facility or work area - meant parts of Kyla's facility were left empty, with CCAs and LPNs required to run to cover multiple areas and residents. Their workload increased with the loss of the support of residents' families. They felt blamed for the COVID restrictions and even COVID itself, despite how hard they fought to keep the residents safe. For Kyla’s team, they got through it together and their solidarity became very tangible.
Now that public health restrictions are easing, there's mostly relief and hope in Kyla's workplace. Unfortunately, after the past 18 months of stress, anxiety and crushing workloads during the pandemic, when Kyla asked for vacation to take a break and ease the feeling of burnout, she was denied a whopping thirty-six (yes, 36!) times. But again, she feels hope, because she was granted two days of vacation.
Kyla became a CCA because her grandmother passed under less than ideal circumstances and she wanted to be part of a team that provides excellent care. She has taken the Continuing Care Assistant course, Turning/Lifting/Repositioning (TLR) training, Gentle Persuasive Approaches training, healthcare practitioner CPR/First Aid training, food safety, and WHMIS in order to perform duties of her job. Her daily tasks consist of washing, bathing, dressing and toileting residents. She monitors skin for any form of breakdown, monitors clients’ overall health and change of conditions. She and her teammates also do food preparation and service, laundry, some cleaning, computer charting, mandatory education sessions, and stays on top of policy updates and changes. She does daily equipment checks on lifts and kitchen sanitizers, fields and arranges phone calls and visits from families, ensures residents get to activities such as hair appointments and games, assists clients with walking and exercise programs, restocking and is a source of emotional and mental support for her residents.
Unfortunately, the complete list of her duties (yes, there's more) combined with chronic understaffing means residents don’t get as many of those moments as she’d like to give them, which she knows they deserve.
Kyla's message to Premier Moe is this: We are the frontline; the ones who make it happen. We are the professionals who understand both the technical and emotional skills required in the healthcare system; without us, there is no ‘system’. If you want anyone left to do this job, its time to respect us, protect us and pay us.