AI-generated portrait of a non-binary personal support worker

Case study: Ashley

Ashley is a personal support worker who has worked in a long-term care facility for more than a decade. Over this time, they have developed deep relationships with their residents.

At the pandemic’s outset, Ashley experienced the death of seven residents within a few weeks’ time. Several of them, including one resident whom Ashley felt close to, died alone and in pain.

When Ashley expressed their personal need for emotional support to their supervisor, they were told there’s no time for grieving and that they must get on with their job — i.e., “It is what it is.” Ashley tried to work through their grief but began keeping distance from their residents. They also had trouble sleeping.

After the outbreak subsided, the family of Ashley’s favourite resident invited them to join an online celebration of life. During the ceremony, Ashley was able to share their fondest memories of the resident.

Ashley found that being able to say goodbye in this way helped them feel a sense of closure. Inspired by this experience, they wrote a small goodbye letter expressing care to each of their residents who’d passed — and they have since kept up the habit. This act of writing has helped Ashley process the cumulative grief they have experienced during COVID-19.

Image generated by Midjourney.