Fara Lambing is a Public Health nurse with the Child & Youth Team on the North Shore. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she wanted to find a way to be more useful. So when she heard about an opportunity to redeploy and join the Personalized Stabilization and Support (PSS) team, she jumped at the opening. It gave Fara the chance to work with the PSS team and visit the COVID-19 patients following their discharge from Lions Gate Hospital.
The PSS team supports people to safely transition from hospital back to home. They provide community/home support and reablement care to increase self-reliance and optimal functionality. This type of care at home aids recovery and aims to get clients back to their normal activity levels as soon as possible. After more than two months with the team, she’s back with Public Health, but with a story to tell and gratitude to offer for her experience. Fara’s put pen to paper in hopes of inspiring other staff within VCH to share their experiences being redeployed during the pandemic.
In-vivo altruism – a novel experience in the time of a novel pandemic
During my redeployment to the PSS team I found the perfect, ethical opportunity to practice “in-vivo altruism” and kindness with the COVID-19 patients I visited in their homes. With the pace of the COVID-19 pandemic, reconnecting to the core of human kindness and altruism was the most effective skill for me to help my clients. It also helped rebuild their sense of self and replenish their motivation to return to who they truly are, despite their new health challenges and physical weakness.
During our weekly huddles, I quickly realized the focus of all my coworkers was also deeply rooted in the concept of kindness and altruism. The internal collaboration of our multidisciplinary team and careful planning of the goals and care plans not only improved the physical health of our COVID-19 clients, but also their emotional resilience, refocusing their energy to the positive.
Our collective efforts to devote quality time and really listen to our clients and their family members during our visits, created an empowering framework in which patients and their families could feel they were deeply and meaningfully seen. This was possible, despite their perceived powerlessness during the pandemic.
I fondly remember our 93-year-old grandma who told me she was banging her plates and cups in bed at 7 p.m. There was our 56-year-old client who, despite his muscle weakness, did his best to be on his balcony and said, “Every day, I applaud facing LGH for all the medical team members from the bottom of my heart.” And a client’s little daughter who happily opened the door for the rehab assistant and screamed, “Daddy’s teacher is here!” She was not even afraid of the yellow gown, face shield, and gloves. This is the least I can offer to recognize the emotional legacy of this pandemic.
Throughout this experience, I learned that it is in the midst of the challenges and interactions with others that we develop an aptitude within us to practice an in-vivo altruism and thereby actualizing our humanity.
I am very grateful to my wonderful Public Health Child & Youth team managers and coworkers who supported me in this valuable redeployment experience. And the outstanding PSS team members who empowered me with their generous guidance and lifesaving skills, always remaining selfless and humble.
This article was written by Jeremy Deutsch, a Communications Specialist for Vancouver Coastal Health.