Nursing Home Resident Experience

My dear mom wrote this open letter to the management of Our Lady of the Valley, Roanoke, Virginia. I imagine that a lot of nursing home residents will relate.


We Need More than Rules

Dear administrators,

There’s a sadness at Our Lady of the Valley. I write for myself but I think I speak on behalf of others when I say that the past Covid year has caused us residents much pain and suffering.

We’re human beings who make our own decisions, yet for an entire year we’ve had almost no choices to make. We’re human beings with intelligence and emotions, not just followers of rules for avoiding coronavirus. We’re social human beings, forced into a year’s isolation: no visitors and repeated quarantines in our rooms—quarantines not unlike solitary confinement, which is proven to cause psychic and physical ills in as few as ten days.

You’ve done your best to protect us from coronavirus, and your best has been very good. Our Lady of the Valley has remained relatively free of sickness.

But running a nursing home involves more than “stopping the spread” and avoiding legal liability. Dealing with the pandemic has gotten in the way of human relationships—relationships among residents, relationships between residents and staff. We’ve spent a year of dreary days with little human interaction except for rules: what you can’t do this week; what you might be able to do next month; but no, being able to do that is postponed into the indefinite future. . .

Coronavirus has been a big challenge for you. It has been a bigger challenge for us. You get to go home every day, but this place that has been a prison for a year is our home. We’re suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The whole world is, but we nursing home residents are suffering from it worse.

Don’t make giving orders to isolate us from you and from each other your permanent disposition toward us. Please remember that we deserve tablecloths, kind words, and respect for the wise and experienced people that we are.

Ann White

3 thoughts on “Nursing Home Resident Experience

  1. So easy to forget those of us who have it harder than we do. Praying this COVID will be over with soon.

  2. Ann, I am sorry for your suffering and the suffering of all who are “imprisoned” by fear. I include you and those in similar situations in my rosary intentions every day. I know it may not be a palpable consolation, but it’s all I can offer at this time. Zoom and Facetime ar great but hardly a substitute for human contact!

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