Want changes to B.C.’s long term care system? Talk to this doctor - InfoNews

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Want changes to B.C.’s long term care system? Talk to this doctor

Dr. Penny MacCourt
Image Credit: Submitted/Penny MacCourt
August 07, 2020 - 7:30 AM

There have been problems with B.C.’s long term care system for many years that run far deeper than COVID-19, so Action for Reform of Residential Care is drafting what it calls a white paper on changes that need to be made.

“Number one is stabilizing the workforce,” Dr. Penny MacCourt, who's leading the project, told iNFOnews.ca. “It’s getting people into the system that want to be there and supporting those people with adequate wages. Think about the image now of long term care in terms of recruiting people to it. Would you want to go?”

But the needs run far deeper than that, such as the lack of a voice for families with loved ones in care.

“How can families be better able – because they are the ones with the most invested, the ones that are there all the time, who see everything – how can they actually be made to matter?” she asked.

MacCourt, who lives in Nanaimo, “retired” this summer as an affiliate for the Centre of Aging at the University of Victoria but has a long history of research in the field and taught a distance learning course in social work for at least 10 years at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.

"I’ve worked when things were a lot better and I’ve worked when things were worse,” she said. “I’ve heard the same things over and over and over again. The same concerns about families fearing retaliation. The same concerns about short staffing. The same concerns about custodial care warehousing in a lot of places. All of which I think, in the last 20 years, have got way worse.”

READ MORE: Fear of retaliation keeping people from speaking about issues in B.C.'s long-term care homes

Action for Reform of Residential Care is a group of clinicians, researchers, family members, staff, former staff and people who have been involved in various parts of the long term care system.

It has no funding.

The plan is to have an executive summary and draft recommendations completed by the end of this week to take around to various groups associated with long term care for their support before presenting it to government.

“What we hope will distinguish this from your general reports that are coming out from everywhere is that we want to launch a media and social media campaign to get the public behind change in B.C.,” MacCourt said.

For that, she’s looking for personal stories from people who have experience with the long term care system in order to add personal touches that she hopes will get through to government authorities.

READ MORE: B.C. woman 'not getting anywhere' in trying to help loved one in care home

“At the end of the day, what’s needed – and I don’t know how this actually happens – is a really big discussion about what kind of care we want for older adults and what we’re willing to pay for it,” MacCourt said.

She can be contacted at 250-756-2129 or by email at arrcbc@shaw.ca.

The group’s web site is expected to launch this week, at arrcbc.ca.

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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