While residents in long-term institutional care (LTIC) facilities in Saskatchewan are safe from COVID-19 during stringent lockdowns it comes at significant cost. Kathleen Spatt, President of Saskatchewan’s chapter of CARP, argues in favour of mitigated risks and mental health.
The Saskatchewan government has lifted nearly all COVID-19 restrictions in the province. However, older adults living in care facilities still face potential lockdowns. The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is continuing to use a levelled system of Family Presence and Visitor Restrictions — meaning seniors will still face restrictions.
The risks of COVID-19 for residents are real. As of Feb. 16, there have been 190 deaths among residents in Saskatchewan’s long-term care facilities. The province has had 1,012 deaths total.
However, stringent lockdowns in LTIC facilities mean residents are unable to see even family for weeks on end. This isolation and loss of connection has a profound impact on the wellbeing of residents, from malnutrition to depression to worsening dementia.
Spratt is advocating for protective measures like rapid testing and mandatory masking rather than lockdowns. She’s disappointed the proof-of-vaccination policy in SHA facilities was halted, but said regardless of that, residents want to move forward.
This is just one of many instances in which Canada fails older Canadians. COVID-19 laid bare many existing issues in the long-term care system, of which CARP is currently advocating for a complete overhaul.
To protect seniors in care homes, CARP renews our standing and urgent demands that government commit to:
- Creating regulations that reflect resident’s and their family’s needs and wishes. Residents want decisions made with them not for them
- LTIC must be reimagined and recreated with an innovative, emotion-based model of care with smaller, homelike environments and well trained and supported staff who are empowered to care for the residents with compassion and that all-important ‘human touch.’
- Financial support provided by the government in support of aging with dignity should be tied to the adoption of provincial standards of care that are evidence-based, monitored, and evaluated.
- Implementation of mandatory staffing levels in long-term care facilities to reflect the changing composition of residents and better protect the frailest of the frail population
“Our long-term care facilities need a total rework. They’re broken, they need to be fixed,” Spatt said. She said the majority of homes are simply “warehousing our vulnerable populations.”
Read more about CARP’s advocacy on LTIC.