When the COVID-19 pandemic prevented Rachael Dong from visiting her grandfather at St. Joseph’s Auxiliary Hospital in south Edmonton, she was inspired to take action to ensure isolated seniors have all the supports they need in the face of this public health crisis.
She knew that many other Alberta families with loved ones in continuing care must be feeling the same frustration and anxiety her family was going through – and decided to funnel her feelings of powerlessness into a project to make a difference for people like her grandfather.
“We’re limited in how we can support him right now,” Dong says, adding that she came up with the fundraiser as a way to bring new tools to health care teams on the frontlines of the pandemic, while also lending support to the call by public health officials to flatten the curve.
Along with her friend and fellow University of Alberta student, Mena Burr, Dong launched a social media campaign to support COVID-19 relief at Covenant hospitals and continuing care facilities across Alberta.
Using the hashtag #PlankTheCurveChallenge , their campaign calls on Albertans to share photos of themselves doing the plank and tag others to do the same, with a request to make a donation to Covenant Foundation’s Compassion Calls campaign.
Creativity is encouraged, Dong laughs, acknowledging that “not everyone wants to go plank for 10 minutes.”
Her photo pictures her face down on the ground while Burr’s photo includes her dog.
The pair stresses the importance of putting together a project that allows people to support it while honouring the advice of public health officials to stay at home and maintain physical distance.
Using the hashtag #PlankTheCurveChallenge, the campaign encourages participants to snap a photo of their plank, donate online here and tag others.
Since the #PlankTheCurveChallenge was launched by the students in mid-April, the campaign has raised nearly $1,500. All funds will support Covenant Foundation’s Compassion Calls campaign – a fund established so Covenant health care teams have everything they need to respond to the unanticipated but critical needs of the patients and residents they’re caring for during these very difficult times.
Like many of the residents living at St. Joseph’s, Dong’s grandfather has dementia. Without the regular visits from family, Dong appreciates any extra efforts by his health care providers to support residents who can be especially vulnerable to changes in routine.
One of the biggest things is that person-centred care, Dong stresses.
“Just because they have dementia doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings and we don’t even really know what goes on in their head,” she adds. “We’ve all just been very grateful and very happy for the care that he’s received at St. Joseph’s.”
“I’m incredibly thankful for the amount of funds we’ve received so far, especially considering the economic situation right now,” says Burr. “Most people are struggling financially but the fact that those who can donate are still doing so just is amazing. “
“We’re just really grateful for everyone’s kindness,’ adds Dong. While the pair is pleased to see their friends participating in the social media fundraising campaign, their excitement really began to build once they saw strangers begin to take up the challenge.
“That was a moment of revelation for both of us and was just really, really cool to see.”
Click here to learn more about how you can join the #PlankTheCurveChallenge and bring new COVID-19 supports to patients, residents and families in a community near you.
Written by: Laura Ehrkamp