Luc Raymond, dg residence for seniors: “For the moment their family is us”
Workers everywhere are at the front despite the end of countless social, cultural and economic activities. The newspapers of the National Cooperative of Independent Information publish a series of portraits of those for whom there is neither isolation at home nor telework. These everyday heroes who hold the fort in our upset lives.
L uc Raymond is the head of ÉKLA, one of the Groupe Maurice’s retirement homes. In the face of the coronavirus crisis, a number of new measures have been put in place to protect these people who are among the most vulnerable in society. With passion in the company of his team of around sixty employees, he watches over the 568 residents who have seen their daily lives transformed in recent weeks. A “new family” for these people who, confinement requires, find themselves safe from the virus … and social ties.
Q Since the beginning of the crisis, what is your daily life like at the residence and how has the epidemic accentuated work protocols?
A Several measures have been taken to protect residents. In accordance with government guidelines, every effort has been made to ensure their safety by further disinfecting surfaces such as ramps and elevator buttons. These are protocols already in place that have been strengthened to avoid outbreaks like that of COVID-19 and eliminate all risks of spread.
Visits have been withdrawn and we are trying to limit the residents’ outings as much as possible. Gradually, the activities were canceled and the dining room closed. Meals are now served in the apartments. Disinfectant stations are also available at the entrance and an attendant explains to people going out the importance of not frequenting public places. There is educational work to be done with the residents so that they understand the measures reinforced every day, but also with the employees so that they understand that they are needed to take care of the residents.
Q How do you feel about being at the front to help people?
A You have to love what you do and I do. Residents and employees, I care about them and I come to work to keep them safe. We do meaningful work that sometimes makes us emotional. We are completely changing the way they live with these new measures. We note that some live on social isolation. It upsets us, because one of the values of the Maurice Group is to eliminate social isolation. Right now, they no longer have the right to gatherings, so we must tell them that we are there for them and adopt the measures gradually so that they do not experience a shock. They feel like they are in prison, but the team will help them get through.
Q Which image best describes what you are going through now?
A I have in mind the image of a chain of people holding hands: together we can go far. That’s right in there. We know we support each other and we have to be on the ground. Our goal is to make sure that they don’t panic, but that they take the crisis as something serious. We continue to innovate to take care of them. In the past few days, maple cones have been distributed on their doors, crossword puzzles and sudokus, and exercise books to keep them busy. There is no gathering, but it comforts them to know that we are there without being physically there.
Q Are you concerned for your residents about the increase in the number of confirmed cases in the region, knowing that 70 and over are more vulnerable to the virus?
A We are living in an extraordinarily unusual situation, so it is certain that we are worried, but we are more vigilant. In front of more instructions and protocols, people are reassured. They see that the measures we are taking are for their safety.
Q How does your clientele live with this new reality?
A They collaborate and respect the instructions. Even if they are forced, they know it is for the best. It is not cheerfulness that we do it and it is against our values. I have a microphone and a camera which allow me to speak in the apartments to reassure them and remind them of the measurements; it’s outside the habit, but we need to be creative so that they know that they are not alone even if they are closed.
Q Do you feel that your work is more essential than ever, providing services to residents on a daily basis despite the crisis?
A Certainly. Since the start of the crisis, I have been there every day. Not being here would be disastrous for them. We must ensure a reassuring presence, because they cannot have their family near them at the moment, so it is us their family.