VERNON - Judy Galley uses words like horrific, neglectful and nightmarish to describe the state of seniors homes in B.C., and she wants to change that.
The Shuswap woman launched a petition calling on the provincial government to improve staff-to-patient ratios at care homes after experiencing the system firsthand. Her parents resided in Kelowna care homes in their last years, and Galley says the care was so poor, she and her siblings—none of whom live in Kelowna—were compelled to take things into their own hands.
“We took shifts going down to Kelowna and making sure one of us was with our parents at all times,” she says. “It had to be done. The fact of the matter is that my parents were lucky they had us to do that for them.”
She says her father was chronically left in his wheelchair after meals rather than being moved, via a lift, into his bed.
“He was left for up to an hour and a half before anybody found time to get him back to his bedroom, despite the fact they knew that because of his arthritis, it was very painful for him to be sitting in one position for any length of time,” Galley says.
On another occasion, her mother fell out of bed and was forced to lie there until 7 a.m. the next morning for a care aide to arrive and help her back up.
“All of these facilities are understaffed, that’s all there is to it,” Galley says. “The people work as hard as they possibly can, there just isn’t enough of them.”
The province asks care facilities to “aspire” to three hours of direct care with patients per day, but that’s only a recommendation, Galley says. She wants legislated enforcement calling for more staff, and more direct care with patients.
She insists the need, and the proof, is there. An Ombudsperson report on the state of seniors care in B.C. made numerous recommendations, including that the Ministry of Health establish legally binding minimum requirements for the standard of care, and Galley says that’s something the province cannot ignore.
She says her concerns have been echoed over and over again by members of the communities she’s visited with her petition.
“Every single story ends with, Why can’t they hire more staff?” she says.
Galley plans to submit her petition to a government official by March 7, and have it brought to the B.C. legislature in the fall session. Her next stops are Salmon Arm on Feb. 23 where she’ll be collecting names at Piccadilly Mall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and in Kelowna March 2, at the Town Centre Mall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. She’s also looking at adding stops in Vernon and Penticton.
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