B.C. families hoping changes at seniors care homes will protect against COVID-19, isolation - InfoNews

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B.C. families hoping changes at seniors care homes will protect against COVID-19, isolation

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March 16, 2020 - 7:00 PM

The province is now calling for limits on visitors to long term care centres in an effort to reduce the risk of those homes having COVID-19 outbreaks.

“We are moving to restrict visitors in long-term care to essential visits only,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a statement. “Essential visits include compassionate visits for end-of-life care and visits that support care plans for residents based on resident and family needs, for example, families who routinely visit to provide assistance with feeding or mobility.”

That’s the kind of move that seniors activist Delores Broten applauds.

“It really is a delicate balance because people get depressed very easily,” she told iNFOnews.ca today, March 16. “We went through a 28-day norovirus here last January (2019) and several people just quit eating. A lot of us families visit a lot. If you’re used to having visits then don’t have them, you feel abandoned.”

Add to that the fact that some homes are understaffed so they rely on family members to help feed residents.

The facility she’s talking about is the Comox Valley Seniors Village where her husband has been living since the beginning of 2016, suffering from dementia. She’s one of more than a dozen people who filed affidavits in a lawsuit against Retirement Concepts that owns that facility and three others in the Thompson and Okanagan regions.

She’s also a founding member of Crying Out Loud, a group that successfully lobbied for that home to be taken over by Island Health.

Interior Health took over the administration of Summerland Seniors Village – also owned by Retirement Concepts – in February.

During the 2019 norovirus outbreak, Broten claims in her affidavit that staff did not follow proper cleaning procedures. That sparked her letter writing campaign that got the home put under administrative control in October. But it was just a couple of weeks ago that the administrator managed to get the owner to hire more cleaning staff.

That gives her some comfort that cleaning standards will be maintained in Comox during the COVID-19 pandemic which has already caused the death of at least three residents of the Lynn Valley Care Home in North Vancouver.

Still, it will be “terrible” if she’s totally prevented from visiting her husband as she was last year.

“At least I can phone and talk to the nurse whenever I want to,” Broten said.

Some care homes have already taken action, even without government direction.

“Some of them are on complete lockdown,” Kim Slater told iNFOnews.ca today. “Others are instituting the same kind of protocols like they do with other types of flus - cautions about who comes in and about cleanliness, etc. Doing the sanitization on steroids kind of thing.”

Slater is chair of the Vancouver Island Association of Family Councils, which has members from groups of families of people in care homes all over Vancouver Island.

No such organization exists outside the Island but he encourages people to contact his group to help get family councils set up so they can communicate with each other about what’s happening in these facilities – especially in times of stress like what's being caused by COVID-19.


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