Some aren't waiting for Seniors Advocate’s report to find relief for family in care | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Some aren't waiting for Seniors Advocate’s report to find relief for family in care

Delores Broten is now able to visit her husband Don in his room thanks to changes in the way the long term care facility has made to visitation rules.
Image Credit: Submitted/Delores Broten
October 27, 2020 - 12:38 PM

With the provincial election over, Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie is about to release the results of her survey of conditions in long term care homes during the COVID-19 lockdown.

That’s going to happen officially at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Oct. 28, and will be live streamed on the Seniors Advocate’s Facebook page here.

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

But, even before that, some care homes on Vancouver Island were taking extra steps to make life better for their residents.

Last week, Jeanette Harper was able to take her mother, Marguerite Bell, home from the Eden Gardens care facility in Nanaimo for a two-week visit.

It’s an option she only recently heard of and few people seem to know about.

Called the Temporary Absence Program it has been around for quite some time. It allows residents of long term care homes to be taken out for up to 90 days.

But, the old rules said the care home did not have to save their rooms for them and all personal possessions had to be taken with them.

Harper first heard about the program from someone in Vancouver and, when she contacted the CEO of Eden Gardens, was told that was the case there as well.

But, while care home operators are often criticized these days for being too eager to keep families out, this one actually went the extra mile to help, Harper said.

READ MORE: 'NO TRANSPARENCY': B.C. families denied access to long term care facilities wondering why

“Out of the blue, a few days later, the CEO sent me an updated policy that had been done in May and did guarantee they will hold the bed,” Harper said.

She was quick to schedule time off work and make other arrangements to bring her mother home.

“Just because of how much my mother had deteriorated with not having us in there – and I know it’s the same for all loved ones – I just had to do it,” Harper said. “I don’t know if we can get back a little bit of what my mother used to be like over two weeks but I’ve got to give it a try. I know it’s not for everyone because everyone can’t either take the time off work or set their house up to be equipped for it.”

Her mom will have to be in a two-week quarantine once she returns to Eden Gardens but, since Bell spends a lot of her time alone anyways, Harper’s hoping it works out well. If it does, she plans to bring her mom home for Christmas.

In Comox, Delores Broten has lobbied for years against short staffing in the Comox Valley Retirement Village and has joined in a class action lawsuit against the facility’s owner, Retirement Concepts.

READ MORE: Owners of three B.C. Interior seniors homes being sued as part of class action lawsuit

But two months ago she was able to move her husband Don, who has dementia, to another facility and, last week, was given the opportunity to join in a new program called essential meal assistance at The Views at St. Joseph’s.

“I believe the management there is super concerned that people have connections with their families,” Broten said.

Before this, she could visit in a common room for half-an-hour three times a week. That meant staff had to wheel Don down long corridors, which he strongly resisted.

Now she can go to his room for 90-minutes and help feed him. She could continue the shorter visits as well but has decided not to put him through that.

“We understand the frustrations, recognize the hardships, and acknowledge the difficulties inherent in limiting visits between residents and families,” Jane Murphy, president and CEO of Providence Living that owns the facility said in an email. “We are following Island Health's guidelines and best practices for essential visits and other visitation to support our residents and their families during this difficult time. We look forward to being able to further loosen our visitation restrictions as new guidelines are put in place so we can witness many happy reunions while keeping our residents, their families, and our staff safe."

Some activists and long term care facility operators have been briefed on Mackenzie’s report but can’t divulge details until it’s released tomorrow. It contains a number of recommendations that can be easily implemented, one activist said.

But, with more than a dozen current outbreaks of COVID-19 in long term care homes and new ones happening regularly, it’s up to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to make the call on how visits are handled going forward.

Yesterday, she clamped down on the size of family gatherings as record high numbers of new cases were recorded over the weekend.

READ MORE: New health order limits household gatherings after 817 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday

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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