Long-term care system in B.C. is 'broken,' families say
VANCOUVER -- B.C.’s long-term care system is not just fractured, it is broken.
That is the feeling of six women who were inside the Lynn Valley Care Centre, each with a parent living there, when the COVID-19 outbreak began in March.
“The whole system broke apart during this worldwide pandemic,” says Debbie Drew, whose father lives at LVCC in North Vancouver.
Althea Gibb-Carsley, whose mother-in-law died of COVID-19 at Lynn Valley, agrees. She said the virus has "exposed a great many fragilities in our system.
The women believe staffing levels are too low system-wide.
“We witnessed, in the last six months, people falling and crying out in the hallway. And no one came. So we’re helping people get up and calling the call bells,” says May Mikhail, whose mom, Isobelle, died of COVID-19 on March 18.
“The perception that (long-term care is) working alright is skewed because people like us go in, help with feeding, identify needs, we clean up the room, we mop the floor,” explains Gibb-Carsley, who also says that the care for seniors needs to be more personal.
She offered an example of a conversation she had with her mother-in-law, Isobelle, before her death. She says Isobelle seemed down that day and she asked her why.
Her mother-in-law told her, "The (care aides), they come, they put the lotion on my legs. They're very good, but they forget: I'm up here. I'm up here."
Drew says long-term care needs to be better.
“It goes back to skilled staff and can they do it? Can they meet all the needs of the seniors who are at end of life? Is there humanity?” she questions.
”And we as a group have decided that no, (staff) don’t have the time to give a basic need to a dying person.
The women say that if there’s one thing good that could come from the pandemic, it’s fundamental change. And they believe that starts with more staff caring for the seniors lucky enough to have survived the pandemic.
They are urging the B.C. government to ensure the province's vulnerable seniors get the care they deserve.