In response to recent media on conditions in long term care, frontline families from Nanaimo and the Comox Valley have issued a call for “volunteer residents’ Ambassadors for Quality Care” at long-term care facilities in each community, answerable to the family council.
The lockdown of long-term care facilities in B.C. is continuing, and almost all families are locked out of their loved ones’ lives.
“Everything is undercover now,” says Joan van der Holt, a member of Crying Out Loud for Quality Residential Dementia Care (COL) in the Comox Valley. “We can’t go into the facility and see what is happening… we have no idea of care hours, wound care, or any other quality of care issues, because family members cannot get in. Even our family doctors are not allowed in.”
Family members are haunted by images of those with dementia sitting listlessly, for days on end, with most recreation still forbidden, and no one to check the quality of food or provide any music or other entertainment.
The families point out that while we are hearing horror stories out of Ontario and Quebec, due to the military reports, we do have our own problems here in B.C.
In fact, it was the unearthing of these failures which led to the public administrators being appointed in four LTC facilities, long before COVID-19. The BC Seniors Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie, outlined some of the failures of for-profit facilities in A Billion Reasons to Care, published in February 2020. (https://www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca/a-billion-reasons-to-care/)
With no independent eyes on the floor, the families are proposing an independent monitor to be their eyes and ears.
“Such a concept is long overdue. It is imperative that we work with the facilities and government to develop protocols for this ‘Ambassador for Quality Care,’” says Marcy Johnsrude of Seniors in Care Crisis (SICC) in Nanaimo. “An independent ambassador would help to ensure the physical and emotional health of our seniors during this time and permanently thereafter. The families say it is imperative that things move forward to protect our elders and this is a measure to protect our elders now.”
“Locked doors cannot continue forever,” says Greta Judd, of COL. “We need to restore the civil rights of our seniors, while maintaining infection control. We are presenting this as a permanent concept as a part of restoring civil rights issues, and we anticipate that facilities will be excited for our help as this will undoubtedly improve care.”
FMI: Greta Judd, Crying out Loud, 250-792-1100
Marcy Johnsrude, Seniors in Care Crisis, 250-758-4474
SICC – Seniors in Care Crisis is a BC advocacy group concerned with the quality of long term care in the province, to educate and engage family, friends, the public to take action for improvement.
COL – Crying Out Loud, a volunteer non-profit society (pending) that advocates for quality residential dementia care.