Tracy Duncan gives husband Rick a hug before heading off to work for the night at a Salmon Arm seniors care facility. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Shuswap caregiver a hero in husband’s eyes

Night and day shifts leave little time for Tracy and Rick Duncan

Caregiver Tracy Duncan is a hero in the eyes of her husband, Rick.

Working night shifts at the Piccadilly Care Centre in Salmon Arm, Tracy doesn’t get a chance to hear the evening clanging of pots and pans or honking of horns that occurs in honour of essential workers. But she knows what she’s doing is important – especially with COVID-19, which forced senior care facilities into lockdown.

“These people sometimes don’t have someone, so we are there for them – we’re their counsellors, we’re their care aides, we’re their cooks, we’re their everything…,” said Tracy. “And them being separated from their loved ones because we’re on lockdown, it’s that much harder for them.”

With the pandemic, Rick said Tracy went from working eight hour shifts to 12-hours shifts or longer, which she takes on without complaint. The downside is that he works days, while she took on the night shifts after their truck broke down, leaving them with one vehicle to get them from their Tappen residence to work in Salmon Arm.

Read more: Show and shine of gratitude hits the road for Salmon Arm caregivers

Read more: ‘You are not alone’: B.C. pledges $500K to help family caregivers amid COVID-19 pandemic

Read more: Dementia intensifies loneliness and loss for seniors in pandemic, says caregiver

“By the time I get home, we have 20 minutes give or take with each other…,” said Rick. “So she literally keeps the car running as soon as she gets in and I just get in the driver’s seat and take off. It works out for both of us having one vehicle now. No complaints.”

Rick and Tracy have been together for about 22 years, and have lived in the Shuswap for five.

On Thursday, May 28, Rick contacted the Observer hoping to give a public shout-out to Tracy, and let the Shuswap know she is his hero. He said she never complains about the hours, and is truly, deeply dedicated to caring for others.

“To me she is the hero and deserves the credit,” Rick wrote in a letter to the Observer.

Thursday afternoon, prior to her leaving for to work, Rick shared his letter with Tracy. She said it hit her hard – in a good way.

“About four years ago I underwent major spinal and brain surgery, so it’s lucky I’m even walking to this day and doing my job – I’m just a fighter, I just keep on going,” said Tracy, standing beside Rick next to their car. “I’m thankful every day that I can do what I do… A lot of people would give up but I don’t, I just keep on going. So I think that’s why I’m his hero.

“I don’t think it’s heroic, I just think that we all have a plan in life and mine is to make sure people are loved, people who don’t have anybody close by or anything.”

Rick and Tracy shared a hug before she headed off to work. She wasn’t called in, but offered to go in anyhow to provide some needed haircuts. Rick will be at home waiting for her return, looking forward to the weekend when they might be able to share some time together.

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