On his hands and knees, Mike Boisvert pushes a sign into the ground that says, “Thank you Port Perry Place Cleaning Staff… In recognition of your service.” It’s one of nearly a dozen he put just outside of the Port Perry, Ont., long-term care home on Friday.
His other signs thank the home’s personal support workers, volunteers, and doctors, among others — all of whom, he says, has helped make the facility feel like home for his wife of 50 years, Lina.
“I call them angels,” he said of the staff.
Lina has dementia, and he says most days, she doesn’t recognize him. “[My wife and I], we are one,” he said, “and one is mentally gone. Dementia is a slow death.”
For the past year, Lina has been under the care of the staff at the facility, as she needs around-the-clock help, including when she eats her meals, but he says her caregivers treat her like family.
“She found out [during] the first couple months Lina was here, Lina liked to go up to Tim Hortons,” the Oshawa, Ont., man says of a personal support worker who had helped her. “After her shift, she pushed Lina [in] a wheelchair, took her to Tim Hortons, [bought] Lina donuts and a coffee out of her own money.”
The executive director of the home says she was touched Boisvert put out the signs to recognize all that her staff does for the seniors they help. “It’s just the small things, day to day,” says Laura Powell. “It’s the… stopping and just saying, ‘Hi, how are you today?’ Making sure… [Lina] has her favourite shirt on.”
Meagan Kiss is one of Lina’s personal support workers, and she says acts of appreciation like Boisvert’s make her hard days “much better.”
“You can tell the difference that you’re making in their family member’s lives,” said Kiss.
Although Port Perry Place is now Lina’s home away from home, Boisvert wants his wife to know she will always have a place in his heart.
“I say, ‘Lina, I love you.’ I say this four, five, six times, and then it’s not just her lips… her head [goes] up and she [pauses and says], ‘I know. I love you, too.’ And that’s why I cry when she [tells] me [that]. My visits and my time with her… if I have that, it [means] more than anything else in the world.”
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