There are arguably few more difficult paths to walk than that involving end of life care. Sadly, care workers are often undervalued in our society until we find ourselves in situations that require it. It is then that we see intimately just how important this specialized work really is. Care workers not only help us with out physical well-being, they also support our emotional and mental well-being.
The knowledge, bravery, and empathy that care workers must possess is very difficult to comprehend. We are all unique and have our own unique needs, strengths, quirks, foibles, and personalities. And for this reason, care work is some of the most challenging and difficult to perform. There is a great weight on care workers. They must not only assist the dying, they also provide care for their loves ones who are grappling with heartbreaking impending loss.
Long time UFCW 401 member Mark Bibeau and his family recently experienced the arduous journey of end of life care for his father. In recognition of the wonderful care and compassion they all received, Mark and his family wanted to share publicly a letter of thanks they have sent to those who assisted his father and their family during this incredibly difficult time. Here is their letter:
June 5, 2022
I am at a loss to adequately describe our profound gratitude for all that you have done for my father during his last days at Chinook Hospice. The family was given a list of hospices and we were asked to pick the three that we would most like to have Dad spend his final days. He was hopeful that he was going to be transferred to the facility run by the Salvation Army as he has a connection with their church. We are so very thankful that Chinook Hospice was the first to offer a spot. Much like a favourite movie, where you cannot imagine anyone else playing those roles we are so appreciative that Dad spent time with all of you. Although there were times of confusion, he was deeply impressed with all of you and was thankful for all you did to make him comfortable. I would like to start by thanking a few people who are overlooked because their contact with patients is limited. If it were not for the efforts of your housekeeping staff, namely Jucilene, Cleo and Cheryl, your facility would be uninhabitable and their hard work is evident in every nook of your facility. Their kindness and friendly demeanour radiate through their masks, almost as much as the massive smiles that are evident beneath those same masks. We would also like to thank your kitchen staff for creating meals that helped tempt our father to eat, not an easy task as the health care aides can attest. We would also like to thank Melissa and Elena who deal with the daily administration that lets the facility run so smoothly.
The term “health care aide” is woefully incomplete as it in no way encompasses all that they do in the course of their day. Not only do they look after the physical state of their charges, but their emotional well being as well. There were more than a few times that Dad was going through emotional turmoil and I saw you bend over and gingerly kiss his forehead. Only the most caring, loving and compassionate soul would do such a thing and it was not overlooked Chris, Crystal, Katie, Dolores and Donna. Chris, thank you for taking such wonderful care of Dad. Your presence gave us all peace of mind and there are no words to express our heartfelt appreciation. I’m grateful you were there at the end and got Dad ready for the final leg of his trip. Dad also had a special place in his heart for Narcissa, Imee, Gloria, Florie, Norlito, Elisa and Jonah. The laughter was clear, even through the closed door during his nightly care sessions. Jokes, smiles, kind words and encouragement makes the lives of our family members rich and complete, and I thank you for all the patients who are unable to do so. You DO make their lives better, you ARE valued, and we ARE grateful, more than a few words on a page could ever express. It takes a special breed of person to do what you do, day in and day out. You open yourselves up emotionally as you get to know your patients, only to feel the loss when they are gone and then do it all again the next day. I cannot imagine the emotional toll it takes on you and for that reason I would like to thank your families as well. I would also like to apologize for all the times that failing memories and stress have caused patients and families to call you by the wrong name. (It took a few weeks Gloria, but I eventually got it right!) Thank you for wading through rivers of shit and blood and doing it with the grace as though you were simply wiping a tear from a cheek. I wish you were here right now to wipe away mine. It’s something I know you would do since you asked about MY well being more times than I can remember. Thank you to all the aides like Andrew who work in the middle of the night or are part time and are rarely seen. Simply put, you all have a positive impact on people’s lives! How many CEO’s and politicians can make that claim? Governments may not value your contributions, but FAMILIES do!
I would also like to thank the doctor’s and nurse’s for patiently listening to my questions and explaining the reasoning for all of my concerns. It was my way of trying to control a situation that was far beyond my control. Thanks for understanding Dr. Dina and Dr. Tina. Then there are the nurses he referred to as “my girls’. As busy as you found yourself Donna, you always made the time to hold dad’s hand and see him as a person, not just a patient. Jordan, thank you for bringing your unique sense of humour into his room, your presence was as welcome as the sun and twice as warm. Manpreet, your passion for the well being of your patients is abundantly clear, as is your strong work ethic. Caroline, Roxanna, Shelley, Marimon, Caity and Utta, we are grateful for your skill and professionalism. Thanks to the doctors, nurses and care aides we were given the most wonderful gift we could have hoped for, quality time with Dad. We were able to share memories, stories and jokes with Dad or simply enjoy music, movies or watch another Jeff Foxworthy DVD or Ken Burns documentary.
Finally, I would like to thank Ron for looking after Dad’s spiritual well being. His talks with you helped him through some dark moments and through his time with you he gained clarity and perspective. He was able to rid himself of negativity and doubt and gave him peace of mind. Thank you for walking us all through the process that most people are ill prepared for and would prefer to ignore. Lorraine, I appreciate all you have done for our family during these many months, providing support and recommending programs and support groups. I will be forever grateful to you for taking an hour of your time to talk with Dad when he awoke confused. You give so much of yourself that you consistently stay late to make sure everything has been tended to and it highlights your dedication. One last time Lorraine, “Go home!”.
With love and utmost respect,
Mark Bibeau and Family
Posted on: June 16,2022