An organization in Manitoba is looking for public input to thank the staff at care homes with their Unsung Heroes Campaign.

The Executive Director of The Long Term and Continuing Care Association of Manitoba, Jan Legeros and Executive Director of the Manitoba Association of Seniors Centers, Connie Newman, are the ones who came up with the Unsung Heroes Campaign.

Saying “thank you” is such a Canadian thing. The running joke from American television is that Canadians are so nice and polite; but despite this, we as Canadians and Manitobans have forgotten to thank those who are dealing with the impact of COVID-19 on front-line workers. Long Term Care residence staff have been overlooked. Media outlets have been reporting on deaths in care homes from COVID, but have failed to look at the impact COVID is actually having on frontline workers.

The Long Term and Continuing Care Association of Manitoba wants to rectify that by having Manitobans send messages of thanks to the staff. They have started a campaign called The Unsung Heroes campaign, in the hope of generating words of support from Manitobans.

The Long Term and Continuing Care Association of Manitoba is a member-based, non-profit organization whose mandate is to advocate on behalf of seniors in care. The membership consists of workers who provide care in the three care options that seniors make use of; assisted living, supportive housing, and personal care homes. The organization has been around for 60 years and has been working on behalf of both patients and health care workers.

Newman and Legeros want to give thanks to those who have been working on the frontlines during the pandemic. It is not only doctors and nurses, but also people responsible for improving the overall quality of life for seniors in regards to their overall physical and mental health. It might be a home care worker or someone who baths and feeds patients, or even someone who helps to ensure that patients can stay in touch with their families through the pandemic and all of the restrictions that the pandemic has created.

Newman, Executive Director of the Manitoba Association of Seniors Center, describes these workers as,  "The worker bees inside a congregate setting… they are the welcoming, smiling faces on the inside of a residence."

Over this past year, one of the topics that have been in the media regularly is the high mortality rate in long-term care facilities. COVID-19 affects the elderly at a much higher level than a healthy adult, as Legeros says, "In a personal care home we have our most ill senior who often has many different problems… you could have a senior there that has diabetes, heart disease coupled with dementia as well. So these are definitely the population that have been hit the hardest with COVID."

This one-sided reporting by the media has had an adverse effect on those who are on the frontlines. The long hours and the stress that workers have been dealing with have been even more demoralizing by the fact that long-term care homes are painted in such a negative picture. Newman is very blunt on this point.

"It’s horrific. We’re constantly painting negative pictures. And in the three homes, I connect with on a daily basis…if you’re living under that negative umbrella and then you’re caring and doing your best for our older adults and becomes mentally exhausting because you are constantly being reminded by news and media that it is not a great situation. Many of those workers inside are doing an awesome job of providing smiles and connecting."

Legeros got the idea to create a place on the Long Term and Continuing Care Association of Manitoba’s website where people could provide messages of thanks to frontline care workers. 

No money is needed for this campaign, just words of thanks and encouragement; whether it is a recording, a written message or a video. The messages do not need to be anything extravagant, they just need to be words of thanks and support for frontline workers. The campaign launches on April 6, and both Newman and Legeros are encouraging everyone who is interested to post their message of support on The Long Term and Continuing Care Association of Manitoba’s website.


Written by Chris Wolf.