Post pandemic living
In January, Christa Koehler was involved in a serious car accident. With several broken ribs, a broken pelvis and internal injuries the 84-year-old Kamloops local was not expected to live.
Her struggles were compounded by the restrictions of COVID-19 protocols. With no nearby relatives and a no-friends policy to limit the spread of the virus, she was broken and alone.
Once out of the Royal Inland Hospital, she returned to her care home, which again restricted visitors.
For Christa and many others, recovery would come in isolation, with only the occasional word from the overworked staff at her long-term care facility.
As the countless stories stack up of the difficulty of isolation for seniors, so has the emotional toll for sons, daughters, spouses, grandchildren and other companions. The new protocols also resulted in unintended consequences: less medical care for residents, fewer visits from caregivers, and residents dying in record numbers.
Chronic labour shortages have dogged the eldercare sector in Canada for years; the pandemic opened cracks in a fragile system.
As seen in
In the first year of the pandemic, more than 80,000 residents and staff members of long-term care homes were infected with the coronavirus. Outbreaks occurred in 2,500 care homes, resulting in the deaths of 14,000 residents, reports the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on long-term care and retirement home residents, staff and their families,” says Tracy Johnson, director of health system analysis for the Institute. “Recent provincial and national inquiries have highlighted the challenges that homes face and echoed recommendations from past inquiries that point to broader issues like staffing levels and infection control and prevention.”
Last spring in Ontario and Quebec, more than 1,500 members of the Canadian Armed Forces were deployed to 32 care homes with extensive staffing problems and found poor infection prevention and residents being denied food or not fed properly.
The deadly virus tearing through senior facilities sparked a debate about what could be the largest shift in public policy in decades. The trend: a strong call for government-operated senior care facilities.
According to a May 2020 study from the Angus Reid Institute, two-thirds of Canadians say the government should take over — or nationalize — care facilities, to increase the health and safety outcomes for people requiring long-term care.
With one in four Canadians being over age 65 within the coming decade, the time has come to implement viably sustainable changes for the future of long-term care.