Parades celebrate COVID recoveries at Saul & Claribel Simkin Centre

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Published Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Everyone loves a parade, no one more so than the staff and residents of the Saul & Claribel Simkin Centre personal care home, where residents’ COVID-19 recoveries are being celebrated with special flair.

Each recovery – 15 of them at the time this article was written – is celebrated with a lively parade, complete with balloons, a cheering crowd, and the upbeat strains of “Stayin’ Alive.”

Laurie Cerqueti, the facility’s CEO, calls the parades “a bright light in a dark and difficult time.”

“As a leadership team, we knew when we would be having residents recover from COVID, and that we wanted to do something special,” Cerqueti says. “We thought the parades would be a great way for the residents to feel recognized and celebrated for their recovery. It was also a great way to increase staff morale. We know that the elderly population doesn’t always do as well with COVID, so it really is time to celebrate whenever we have a recovery. We had someone who was 100 years old leave the isolation room the other day, so that was pretty remarkable.”

Photo of a PCH resident celebrating his recovery from COVID-19

“To be able to see someone recover gives us all hope,” Cerqueti says. “When people hear on the news that someone in a personal care home has died from COVID, it’s sometimes treated as just another number. But when you see that residents have people who love them, that they have a family, and that they still have life in them, it provides an entirely new perspective.”

Residents are elated to take part in celebrating their recovery, and proud to wear their specially-designed “Virus Survivor” t-shirts.

“They are thankful to be alive, to get out of isolation, to see members of their families, and to return to their familiar home nursing unit. We’ve posted the parades online and you can see how animated some of the residents are. Some of them are quite overcome with emotion, in a good way. It’s been wonderful to see.”

As meaningful as the parades are to residents and their families, they are also a much-appreciated event for staff at the facility.

“They love our residents; we are like a family and a community here,” Cerqueti says. “It’s been a really long haul – we’re into month nine now – and the parades bring staff joy during a difficult time. One staff member commented that the parades help get them through the day, and I think that really sums it up.”

Cerqueti is justifiably proud of the hard work and commitment staff brings to the job each day.

“I have to give our staff a lot of credit for still coming to work every day with a smile on their faces, because it’s not always easy to do that,” she says. “There’s been a lot of learning as we go, and we have a very strong team here, so I’m thankful for that.”

Of course, the celebrations are about so much more than a parade.

“To be able to see someone recover gives us all hope,” Cerqueti says. “When people hear on the news that someone in a personal care home has died from COVID, it’s sometimes treated as just another number. But when you see that residents have people who love them, that they have a family, and that they still have life in them, it provides an entirely new perspective.”

Above all, it demonstrates that life is precious – and worth protecting – at any age, Cerqueti says.

“These are real people, they have real families, and the public needs to acknowledge that and pay attention to public health rules and guidelines. Stay home and let’s flatten the curve.”

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