Isobel Mackenzie said Sunday that as provincial health officials warn of a “new normal” that could last at least a year, it is important to think about ways to ensure that the elderly are not overlooked or isolated.
“I support the approach that says we are finding a way to safely allow the family to return to the care homes,” she told reporters.
“It won’t look like that, I think we can all agree with that. But one of the very important things is that families are able to support their loved ones in the nursing home. “
PPE demand still exceeds needs during COVID-19 crisis
More than 20 long-term care homes have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks since the pandemic reached British Columbia. at the beginning of February. Provincial health worker Dr. Bonnie Henry said Saturday that 11 of these outbreaks have now been resolved.
The majority of the 100 deaths from the disease so far in British Columbia. have been linked to care facilities for the elderly.
Only “essential visits” have been allowed in nursing homes for more than a month now, on Henry’s orders. This has prompted many facilities to ban visitors entirely, including family members – even when residents have become ill with COVID-19.
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Mackenzie said she also strives to ensure that all nursing homes are aware that families may be exempt from provincial visitor restrictions in the event residents are nearing the end of their lives.
More support for caregivers
Mackenzie announced Sunday that the province will provide additional $ 500,000 in funding to non-profit caregivers in British Columbia, doubling typical government investment.
Funding will be used primarily to expand the organization’s hotline and provide virtual connections to caregivers seeking support.
Mackenzie said these relationships became more vital during the pandemic, which forced the closure of daily respite programs. Many families have been unable to bring relief workers into their homes, she added, and primary caregivers have nowhere else to go.
Coronavirus: B.C. caregivers say 70% experience a “critical” shortage of supplies
“I know that the help you really need right now is a relief from your caregiving tasks and a little bit of time for yourself, and it’s incredibly difficult to provide right now and I I’m really sorry, “she said.
Mackenzie said it was essential that caregivers contact the hotline by calling 211 or visiting the organization’s website.
“Please do not try to carry this burden alone,” she said.
Home care workers and those living in long-term care facilities say they find it difficult to protect themselves from infection with the virus, especially when accessing supplies of personal protective equipment.
A survey last week found that 70% of the approximately 500 workers surveyed in British Columbia faced a “critical” shortage of supplies, about the same number saying they expected to run out of masks, gloves and other equipment within three days.
A follow-up survey released on Saturday found that the situation has improved somewhat, but that members are still seeing gaps.
Forty-two percent of respondents now say they only have three days of equipment, while 40% say they could run out of gloves in a week.
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Mackenzie said she was confident that workers in publicly funded establishments get the supplies they need, but not at the pace they are used to.
“Certainly, we might be more comfortable with nursing homes that have two or three weeks of supplies, although that is not always possible,” she said.
She said that people outside the public system can rest assured that supplies are available through the provincial supply chain, but perhaps not at the pace they deem necessary.
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