Letter to the Editor:
COVID 19 has taken almost 22,000 lives in Canada. That is tragic. What is even more tragic is that over 80% of those deaths were seniors in long-term care facilities and that this tragedy was both predictable and preventable.
The stories were shocking. Our elders left in their own waste slowly fading away from malnutrition and dehydration. The stories, when reported, elicited shock and horror from Governments and a commitment to do better. And yet, that same shock and horror has been expressed by successive governments since deplorable conditions in Ontario long term care homes were first widely reported in 2002. And even now, as we brace for a third wave of this terrible disease, very little action has been taken to alter the situation for our elderly and so we should expect more deaths, more reports and probably even more empty promises to do better.
We stand so proud as Canadians often comparing ourselves and how well we do to other countries around the world. The COVID related deaths in long term care homes in Canada are more than double the average of any other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country. We didn’t do well in caring for the elderly in our society. And this isn’t just about COVID. It’s about how we have undervalued the care and dignity of our seniors for decades.
Those that died were our friends, neighbours and family and successive governments have known about the underfunding, neglect and subsequent abuse of residents in long term care homes for decades. Let’s not forget that, we too, have a responsibility to those in long term care. We must contact our MP’s and MPP’s so they know we will not accept this shameful warehousing of seniors any longer. We need to tell our elected politicians
- there must be regular, unannounced inspections of Long-Term Care ( LTC) homes
- there needs to be adequate budgets to ensure proper staffing and proper pay and training for care givers and
- we need to end the “for profit industry” of elder care
Vaccines may help stem the tide with COVID 19, but will not change the future for residents in Long-Term Care when their ongoing-care needs are given such short shrift from the government.
It’s time to demand resources and reform. We all have a collective responsibility to the most vulnerable in our society. Write a letter, make a phone call, send an email – do something to improve this unacceptable situation.
Cheryl Kryzaniwsky CFUW Southport Member
Sandie Primeau, President CFUW Southport