Seniors advocates are pushing for permission to visit loved ones in long term care homes | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Seniors advocates are pushing for permission to visit loved ones in long term care homes

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June 07, 2020 - 12:00 PM

More than two months of having long term care residents isolated from their families is starting to cause them harm, two Vancouver Island lobby groups say.

“I can see my husband slowly going downhill in the Skype calls," Delores Broten said in a news release. “He doesn’t smile and laugh the way he used to. I know he is old and I know dementia kills, but I need to keep him company on this journey.”

Broten runs the Crying Out Loud for Quality Residential Care in the Comox Valley web page and joined with a Nanaimo group to write a joint letter calling on Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to set guidelines for opening up the care facilities to a limited number of carefully screened visitors.

“Right now, in long term care there is no visitation for families, no entertainment, almost no recreation, no group activities with friends, no joy,” the letter to Dr. Henry states, in part. “Now, in some facilities, even window visits with loved ones are discouraged because elders group together as they all struggle to see a familiar face outside.

“Compounding that, many elders living in care don't have the mental capacity to understand why they have been cut off from family and why their days are suddenly so empty. Add to that the desolation we families feel, unable to share what are destined to be the last days and years of our loved ones’ lives.”

Mary Dewar from Seniors In Care Crisis in Nanaimo worries that residents are missing out on vital help from their families.

“I used to do daily stretches recommended by the occupational therapist  - they have not been done (for) over two months,” Dewar wrote in the news release. “I worry about his stability and posture. I used to apply soothing lotion on rashes that often cover his body and now I wonder if anyone does this. I grieve every day for the loss of precious time with my husband.” 

Dr. Henry has allowed some limited visits in end of life cases but the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths (112 out of 164) have been long term care residents. She said earlier this month that she is looking at ways to open up access but gave no timelines.

READ MORE: B.C. looks to find ways to allow family visits at care homes: Dr. Bonnie Henry

The groups are asking for guidelines to be drafted to allow for a gradual lifting of restrictions.

They are suggesting things such as only one member per family be allowed to visit, that person follow the same protocols as staff and be the lowest risk member of that family.

They are also asking that technology that is simple to use become standard fare in the homes to enhance virtual visits with family.

“What we don't understand is why families who have now self-isolated for weeks and are willing to follow all the same protocols as staff who enter and exit the building daily and are not necessarily self-isolating during their time off, are still not allowed to be with our loved ones,” the press release states.

This story was originally published June 1.

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