#PeopleofPCH – Bill, Caregiver and Husband

Bill, caregiver for Dianne, his wife and resident at Camilla Care.

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#PeopleofPCH is a series that highlights the diverse stories of staff, residents, and families across Partners Community Health (PCH).

Say hello to Bill, caregiver for Dianne, his wife and resident at Camilla Care. Bill shares his story for National Caregiver Day:

“My wife Dianne was diagnosed with dementia at 65, and I took on the role of her caregiver at home with the help of an occasional personal support worker and my daughter. Eventually, it got to a point where I realized I couldn’t do everything myself, and we got her a crisis spot at Camilla Care in late 2018. 

The transition from our home to long-term care was a bit of a challenge for Dianne. She had difficulty settling in, and she would pace the hallways at night. My daughter and I would take turns visiting in the daytime and evenings to walk with her up and down the halls and provide her with a bit of distraction. At the beginning, we were even helping to bathe her because she wouldn’t let anyone else help. 

Over time, with the support of the team at Partners Community Health, my experience has become easier because I feel more like a visitor when I come to Camilla. I can feed her meals, talk to her, and just enjoy my time with my wife. We always have the radio on. Sometimes we skim through the channels, or I put on a CD, but our go-to station to listen to is 97.3. 

My daughter, Lindsay, and I have this routine on Sunday nights where she brings her calendar to my house, and we figure out who will visit on which days. I usually visit four days a week during lunch, and she goes three days a week at dinner time.  

For me, stepping into this role for my wife was a natural part of our relationship. In our marriage, Dianne took care of everything around the house. Laundry was on Monday, and cleaning on Friday in case you get company. That was her old schedule, and I still follow it at home. After her diagnosis, it became a role reversal. Now, it is my turn to take care of her. 

Some of my favourite memories I have of Dianne are when we travelled together. When our children were younger, we would go to a cottage as a family. One year, we took a trip to Prince Edward Island with the kids in a seven-seater van. We have travelled to Calgary, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. 

Now, the most rewarding part of my experience as Dianne’s caregiver is taking in her reactions each day. As her dementia has progressed, she’s become unable to feed herself and hardly speaks, but if she smiles, touches me, or wants to hold my hand, I know it’s a win. I know that something got through. I’ll call my daughter to share these moments with her and she does the same for me. 

Providing daily care for someone as their caregiver can be challenging, and my daughter and I talk a lot about the teamwork involved. It is one of the biggest lessons we’ve learned supporting Dianne through her diagnosis. Family members and loved ones often can’t do it all on their own. We’re grateful that the team at Camilla can be there 24/7 to provide the care that she needs. 

It’s comforting to know that the team is always a call away, and they know that we’re just a call away too. I’m in almost every other day and I’m so appreciative that everybody can work together to make sure Dianne is supported. It truly makes a difference. 

Dianne has greatly outlived the predictions. Every time I visit, I count myself lucky for those extra days that she’s still here.” 

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