WINDSOR, ONT. -- Families caring for those with dementia are turning to video calls to fill the void of in-person visits.

As physical distancing and visitor restrictions tighten up at long-term care facilities, Windsorite Katrina Turpin can only communicate with her mother through Facetime.

“My mom is quite confused right now, due to the fact that she is not seeing us. She doesn’t understand why all of a sudden now everything has abruptly stopped,” says Turpin.

Her mom, Judith Brown, 75, is a mother of five, grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of five. She is living with dementia and has spent the last four years as a resident at The Village at St. Clair, a long-term care home in Windsor.

Judith Brown

Following the government’s recommendations, the home banned all non-essential visitors mid-March. IPads were provided to residents and staff helped steer people through the technology.

Turpin says she chats with her mother weekly. However, it’s been difficult for her to adapt to sudden change of routine.

“We’ve been getting a few calls that she’s been wandering and walking in the hallways and sleeping in the hallways. We think she’s waiting for us to come and see her.”

Although the circumstances aren’t been ideal, Turpin has come to terms with the situation. She says the bright side in all of this is seeing her family become closer than ever as they lean on each other for strength.

“I’m so thankful for my sisters for being there and loving each other,” she says.

“I believe that we can all get through this together, as a family, as a whole, as a community, and as a world together.”

She’s urging others to find the importance of family.

Judith Brown

“Anybody out there that is not close to their family, now is the time to be close to your family.”

Although her mother can’t fully comprehend the changes around the coronavirus pandemic, she has no doubt her love is still there.

“I know that deep in her mind she still loves us all even though sometimes she doesn’t remember who we are.”

In March, one staff member was tested positive for COVID-19 at The Village at St.Clair. The employee has since recovered. The home has been removed from the outbreak watch as no new positive cases have been identified.

The Windsor Essex County Health Unit says extra precautions health care workers at long-term care homes are required to take to prevent bringing the virus into work include:

  • -Temperature testing twice a day (before and after work).
  • -Must wear a mask at all times, even if there is no outbreak.
  • -Maintain their physical distancing with their other colleagues at work as best as possible.
  • -Employees with any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 will be excluded from work until their symptoms are resolved.

The Ontario government is planning to test all 78,000 residents and 56,000 residents in long-term care homes for COVID-19.