Lobby effort ramping up to loosen visiting rules in B.C. long term care homes | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Lobby effort ramping up to loosen visiting rules in B.C. long term care homes

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
October 11, 2020 - 6:00 AM

With no end in sight to tight restrictions on visits to long term care residents, efforts to convince provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry are becoming more urgent.

Following on a rally in Victoria on Sept. 29, a member of the Action for Reform of Residential Care B.C. Association is asking people to electronically sign a letter to Dr. Henry demanding change.

“We are essential caregivers; we are not just visitors!” the letter states, noting residents have been locked down for seven months “without access to their loved one’s familiar faces, loving touches, encouraging voices, warm embraces and the day to day care they had been accustomed to receiving from their loved ones prior to lockdown.”

The letter notes many family and friends served as essential care givers before they were prevented from entering the care homes because of COVID-19 and now, even if they are allowed as social visitors, that can be for as little as half an hour every week or two.

READ MORE: If B.C. finally changes visitation rules in long term care homes, it may come from this survey

“While government attempts to protect our loved ones from contracting this virus, the reality is that most of our loved ones in care are declining physically, mentally emotionally and spiritually,” the letter states. “While we realize these are challenging times and stringent measures need to be in place to keep this virus at bay, at the same time it’s imperative the risks of infection are weighed against the numerous heartbreaking risks of isolation!"

As recently as Thursday, Oct. 8, Dr. Henry said there is no time line for changing the rules.

“This virus is very pernicious and when it gets into that environment it can spread so rapidly,” Dr. Henry said in response to a question from iNFOnews.ca. “If we have one person for every single person in that facility, that increases the risk dramatically and it increases the risk for staff and for the residents in that community.

“It is a very fine balance we have to find in long term care. I understand that we’re not there. We’re not where we’d hoped to be and as we’re heading into influenza season and respiratory season it’s going to be even more challenging for us.”

That argument does not sit well with family members.

“We do not understand why caregivers are not permitted the same privileges as care facility staff that live out in the community, go out shopping, socializing, play with and hug their children many of who are in school," the letter states.

“The staff are checked when they come into the care home and are usually masked while on duty. Caregivers would be more than willing to submit to temperature checks, hand sanitizing, wearing masks, gowns and gloves, whatever it takes to be able to assist with the care our loved ones.”

The letter can be viewed in draft form on the Action for Reform Facebook page here, and signatures can be added by email to nolaglen@shaw.ca by Oct. 14. People need to include their name, mailing address and phone number.

The Action for Reform of Residential Care Association is made of up clinicians, researchers, family members and others trying to improve life in long term care facilities.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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