Due to COVID-19, the Ponoka and District Health Foundation made the decision last spring to cancel the 2020 Ponoka Festival of Trees.
However, the need to raise funds remains.
This year, the foundation is holding an “Un-Festival of Trees” fundraising campaign, focusing on maintaining the standard of care in the Ponoka Long Term Care (LTC).
“COVID-19 brought awareness of the importance of Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures in LTC. Beds, mattresses, counter tops or their equipment is in need of replacement as they are a potential site for disease and infection transmission,” the foundation stated in a recent advertisement for the campaign.
In lieu of a festival, the foundation is asking for donations to support Ponoka LTC.
LTC has asked for support for 10 new beds and mattresses.
When a bed is the last one you are likely to sleep on, it’s significance is even greater. A mattress has a big affect on one’s quality of sleep, and therefore impacts mood, daily choices and overall health.
“I can’t help but think about when our residents come to live out the rest of their days in our facility,” said Amanda Isaac, Ponoka LTC manager, in a request letter to the health foundation.
“This is it for the majority. This is their last home. And now we, as gerontological care givers have the honour of helping them through their final years, months or days. And one simple aspect of this segment of their lives simply gets overlooked: their quality of sleep.
“They are now forced into these institutionalized beds that serve as more of a utilitarian purpose than a luxury,” said Isaac.
“Why now, when a person is at the most fragile point in their lives, are we putting them back into such an objectionable bed? Ones that creak when they are raised or lowered, that only descend partially on one end or another at a time … beds that quit working mid-use and staff end up having to print trouble-shooting guidelines to post on the foot board so everyone knows how to work around it.
“If there was ever a time in life to be spoiled, it should be during our senior years.”
Issac says the current beds have “served their purpose and are old and tired and in some cases, non-functional.”
And especially now during COVID-19, when so much is being done to try to ensure the health and safety of seniors, dings or scratches in beds become a risk, because microscopic organisms can hide away in there and spread to residents, says Isaac.
“If there was ever a time to be 100 per cent confident that our beds were infection and control compliant, this would be it.”
Seniors also tend to spend more time in bed, with Ponoka’s LTC residents spending from 16 to 24 hours in bed, says Isaac.
“Some people won’t, or are not able to, communicate their discomfort or pain. That is why it is so important that we be vigilant in providing comfort as best we can.
“And a comfortable bed is not just a luxury, but part of the complete treatment of a resident, as poor sleep relates to a myriad of health conditions.
“Will a new bed completely resolve their issues? Probably not. Is it used in adjunct with other therapies to manage and treat their symptoms? Absolutely.
“This doesn’t become just a bed. For the majority of our residents, this becomes the place that they close their eyes for that final time. Let’s allow them to live, and to go, in the utmost peace and comfort that we possibly can.”
Of the current residents of Ponoka LTC, 85 per cent are from the Ponoka area, so donations would directly help the “same people who have contributed to our community for most of their lives. Let’s give back to those who have given so much for us.”
Lorna Beaudoin’s husband John lived in Ponoka LTC for 20 years, after he sustained a severe brain injury in a vehicle collision in 1998. The couple were married for 57 years.
John passed away at Ponoka LTC in November, 2019.
Beaudoin has nothing but praise for the care her husband received in his years at Ponoka LTC.
“It was above and beyond anything we expected it to be,” she said, adding that in all his years there, they never once had any complaint about his care.
“They are phenomenal over there.”
Anything that helps the residents at LTC, Beaudoin is in favour of.
“I can’t think of a better cause.”
Beaudoin says with the exception of a few younger patients, the majority of the residents are seniors and they “need to be taken care of.”
They moved to Ponoka when John was placed in the LTC here, a year after his accident, having spent the first year at the Centennial Centre.
“I’ve been very thankful over the years that that was where he was.”
As John was not mobile, he spent his time in either his bed or a wheelchair.
He could move his legs a little bit, so they paid for him to have a bed that adjusts with his movements, to prevent pressure sores.
“I would highly recommend anyone with a family member needing long term care to come to the long term care here,” said Beaudoin.
“They were supportive of my whole family, not just John.”
The beds and mattresses Ponoka LTC hopes to purchase are the IsoFlex LA Support Surface System mattress and the Spirit Select long term care bed.
The IsoFlex mattress relieves the three causes of skin breakdown: pressures, shear and micro-climate imbalance by delivering air toward skin in the sacral region and continues air flow to the torso.
The Spirit Select bed, with its low height of 10.75 inches, can prevent patient falls and injuries, as they can enter and exit the bed with stability.
The beds are $5,287 and the mattresses are $3,850 adding up to $9,137 per complete bed, and a total fundraising need of $91,370.
According to foundation chair Dorothy Ungstad, Ponoka’s LTC was evaluated six months ago, and received a perfect score, and support from the community will allow it to continue to be a top-notch facility.
“People in the community are generous and we know they will be generous with this project as well,” said Ungstad.
Donations can be made by email transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org, online through www.CanadaHelps, or by mailing cheques or cash to 5800 57 Ave. Ponoka, Alberta, T4J 1P1, addressed to the Ponoka and District Health Foundation. Tax receipts will be issued.