Action needed on care homes.

Locally, residents at local retirement / long-term care homes at Humber Heights and West Park are enduring severe outbreaks of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many other care homes are battling outbreaks throughout the province. Half of Ontario’s (291 as of April 14) COVID-19 death toll has been from care-home residents. As of last Friday, 99 of Ontario’s 629 care homes were reporting infections.

29 residents have died in a 65-bed nursing home in Bobcaygeon . The Ontario Health Ministry has secured help for the home from private company Extendicare; curiously the same people who run West Park’s Long Term Care Centre, currently undergoing its own COVID-19 outbreak. In fact the CBC has the story of a resident at West Park Long Term Care who says that the place is grossly understaffed and residents are being neglected. The resident, fearing retaliation from staff asked to remain anonymous.

Some care home staff have been staying home, fearful of being infected or infecting family members because of a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Astonishingly, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams waited until last week before requiring workers to wear masks in care homes. Personal care staff are often required to work in more than one location to make ends meet (full time work is often denied to them so that care homes and agencies can avoid paying benefits).

Premier Ford’s mother-in-law is a long-term care resident at West Park and the premier says it breaks his heart to see his wife Carla helplessly standing outside her mother’s window in tears. While Ford says that it’s ‘very very difficult’ for hundreds of thousands of families right now, there doesn’t seem to be a lot being done. “We’re doing everything we can.“, is often all that he can muster, a comment echoed by health minister Christine Elliott.

Sorry Premier, Minister Elliott, Dr. Williams, that’s not good enough.

While many of these homes are privately run facilities, they are largely taxpayer funded and subsidized. Many years of underfunding by Liberals and (now) Conservatives is a big part of the problem.

Since half of Ontario’s COVID-19 deaths are occurring in care homes, here are some urgent questions on the following:

  • How will you stop the further spread of COVID-19 in care homes?
  • What measures are you taking to ensure adequate PPE is getting to these facilities?
  • How are you ensuring that there are adequate staff levels?
  • Will you end staff being forced to work part-time at several care homes in order to make a living (currently it’s only a recommendation from MOH Dr. Williams)?
  • Will funding be increased to support long term care homes now and in the future?
  • Will you authorize an immediate, substantial pay rise for front-line health care workers?
  • Will you test every resident and worker in long term care homes?

Until these points are addressed Premier, you’re not doing everything you can.

Update 1: Premier Ford announced today that as of midnight on Tuesday April 14, care workers will be banned from working at more than one establishment. The province will top up any lost wages.

Update 2: It turns out that Mr Ford is only applying this measure for two weeks. Is there an emoji for ‘facepalm’?

Update 3: After reading the fine print, the unsettling news is that this brief measure doesn’t apply to agency workers. Read the depressing details here.

2 thoughts on “Action needed on care homes.”

  1. This Premier, that premier and all her majesty’s loyal opponents. In the end, when all is said & done, they’re really all the same – political animals seeking re-election.

    Steered this way & that by those ever present influencers of all colours & stripes. And now, we’re once again seeing political names from the past heading up this group or that.

    No question about it, this is an incredibly serious & sad state of affairs, at the best of times – which I’ve had the dubious pleasure to witness first hand over these past two decades at the more local, long term care centres formerly known as Leisure World, here in Weston & across from the old York Finch hospital.

    And, they weren’t too bad.

    But, we as a family always had someone visit on a daily basis, which was perhaps the key.

    And also, where we would often ask the attending health care givers,
    “Please, how can we help? We can see you’re very busy with all the other seniors, too.”

    Good relationships were developed & grown just by being there, daily.

    And eventually, they expected our unscheduled arrival, just as much as our loved ones did. They soon saw that we must have cared enough to come, no matter how long our working days ran and into the weekends, too.

    But, the global circumstances & concerns were a far cry from today’s. And, the care givers didn’t have the same real fears that they all have now.

    We’re all at least a little more frightened than we were in 2019.

    It’s not a perfect world..
    ..and never will we satisfy everyone, all the time.

    And, you can’t hurry the ticking clock, or push the river.

    When you’re dealing with family members & friends well into “the winter of their lives”, where they can barely put one foot in front of another (let alone feed themselves, bath & groom themselves and relieve themselves with dignity) you can’t help but notice that everything in their long term care world & environment runs at a snail’s pace.. if not even slower.

    You push, you risk mistakes & accidents.

    It doesn’t matter how many, how skillful or how energetic & compassionate the health care practitioners are, you just can’t expedite everyone’s personal needs fast enough. Because the fact of the matter is that everyone needs and deserves decent care & attention – and often everyone wants just the right amount of speciality care, a Goldilocks kind of thing.

    Plus, I’m reminded of that each & every time I take my elderly parent to the various clinics that provide the generous, life sustaining health care. These specialty clinics are not just there for medical needs, they are very much a social outing, too – despite being incredibly busy medical centres.

    And, it’s when I have to remind my elderly parent that these wonderful people looking after you – have lives & families of their own, and they’d like to eventually, get hometown their people.

    So, here I am – not yet convinced that “these are the good old days”, where because of medical science many of us will live well into our twilight years, and perhaps then counting on compassionate, tender loving care, too.

    As wonderful as it may seem on occasion, when you meet that lucid, marathon running 80 year old, it’s really quite rare. And for most of us, and in the words of the late author historian, Pierre Burton, “..aging sucks.”

    Nevertheless, with the aid of those wonderful inventions – the “rear view mirror”, our clarity of vision & enhanced problem solving skills are ever present. And, it’s definitely when the partisans come out to play – with their fingers shamelessly wagging & pointing in every conceivable direction.

    Obviously, none of them has an immediate, definitive answer to critical questions being asked daily – anywhere in this crazy, polarized world.

    And, you know what’s worse..

    When I last checked eBay, all those new digital crystal balls & magic wands were – sold out!

    Evidently, even more scarce than those coveted, N95 masks.

    .. deeper.

    And, try & row in the same direction.
    (We may get there sooner.)

    Oh yeah, one last thing,
    “Stay the blazes home!”


  2. In addition to the above, and all the other needs before us comes the news out of Manitoba, where Premier Pallister is asking the civil servants to take a pay cut of at least 20% – already done so by his fellow MLA’ers.

    So, brace yourselves “civil servants”, enjoying the fruits of our tax dollars. Wait til this narrative hits this & other needy regions across the land when you’re asked to help out a little bit, while you also ride out this pandemic shyte storm.

    (Get the Kleenex ready.)

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