Canada has been shown internationally to have some of the worst death rates for seniors in long-term care during the COVID pandemic. (Metro Creative Graphics)

Canada has been shown internationally to have some of the worst death rates for seniors in long-term care during the COVID pandemic. (Metro Creative Graphics)

LETTER – Seniors in long-term care are being overlooked by our public health officer

The following is an open letter to Dr. Bonnie Henry, from Crying Out Loud, a Comox Valley-based volunteer non-profit society (pending) that advocates for quality residential dementia care.

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Serious problems exist in long-term care facilities that need immediate action. This is not new information. There are hundreds of reports, articles in newspapers, Canadian Army reports, research studies, letters to the editor, demonstrations. And families have been reporting these problems for years. Canada has been shown internationally to have some of the worst death rates for seniors in long-term care during the COVID pandemic.

• In lockdown, residents are losing weight, in depression, lonely, unhappy, with little or no recreation, and not enough of the loving touch families bring.

• There is now, during this seven-month lockdown of our seniors, no oversight by families/visitors to assess the care loved ones are receiving and no oversight on facility cleanliness

• Retirement Concepts facilities are moving to take administrative control of family council meetings and limit membership

• For-profits turn their focus away from quality of care hours to increase profits in private facilities, foreign ownership

• There is little or no continuing education training for care aids, critical especially for dementia residents.

• There are no effective quality standards or measurement with penalties

• The food is often of poor quality

• Until recently, for-profit homes had Inadequate staff, low wages, recruiting problems, staff working in more than one facility. This had been pinpointed as a cause of infection for years.

• There is an overuse of psychotic drugs to make the resident more compliant where there is no diagnosis of mental disease

• There is an overuse of wheelchairs, again a control issue, taking away independence and fitness.

• Fluids are frequently limited to the point of dehydration in order to reduce bathroom use and diaper changes

Several facilities in BC had an imposed government administrator whose term, ended at the end of July, resulted in some improvements in care. Now the facilities appear to be reverting to old practices and there is no effective monitoring. A recent announcement that staff increases in B.C. are planned is welcomed, however, strict quality standards and measurements with penalties and public reporting must be put in place. These are our tax dollars.

Many small groups have advocated for years for improved care in nursing homes, families are stressed seeing their loved ones deteriorate and die prematurely. It is now time for all levels for government to take action to correct this severe situation.

How can you let this continue? We are appalled by the situation these vulnerable seniors are subjected to. This is outright abuse.

Clearly, seniors’ lives don’t matter.

Letter to the Editor

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