It’s time to let loved ones back into long-term care homes to help care for their family members, CanAge, a national seniors advocacy group, says.
According to the advocacy organization, the health of older adults in long-term care homes continues to decline as their family caregivers remain shut out of the facilities as part of COVID-19 infection control measures implemented by the provincial government.
And the longer family caregivers are kept away, the more the health of those seniors will continue to suffer as a result, CEO Laura Tamblyn Watts says.
“Infection control is critically important, but at the same time, we cannot keep locking people up forever,” Watts said. “We are seeing older adults — particularly those with dementia — enormously suffering due to social isolation. Any older adults are not eating properly, they’re losing significant weight, they’re not being able to be taking care of properly and we know that family caregivers are an essential part of the care team.”
While we are seeing other provinces across Canada lifting those provisions, Ontario has yet to do so — but Watts is confident that Ontario won’t be far behind.
But in order to start doing so safely, Watts says homes shoudl start by allowing visits outside with everyone in full and required PPE, a move we are now seeing in places like Quebec, Alberta and some parts of B.C.
Watts says she can see the same thing or something similar happening within weeks in Ontario.
“I don’t think people can last much longer without that,” she said. “They need to make sure they have those essential relationships and family caregivers who can be trained to provide that type support during a pandemic with infection control — they are really upset right now. We know people are dying of loneliness as much as they are dying from COVID.”