Submitted by Mary Spring
The news over the past few weeks with regard to long-term care in Ontario and Quebec has had us all shaking our heads. How could we have come to this? For many, this is no surprise, as we have been aware of the problems for many years. However, the extent of the damage and the consequences due to COVID-19 are horrifying.
I feel like a bit of an authority when it comes to long-term care. As a teenager I watched as my parents were forced to place their parents into old-age homes. My memories of visiting my grandparents in those homes will never leave me, as I had never experienced such institutional living.
My own mother begged her daughters to never put her into a long-term care facility. Unfortunately, her health declined and we had to do just that. Luckily for us her experience was comfortable and safe. We had a wonderful personal support worker who helped with her care. We are forever indebted to the hard-working staff at Muskoka Landing in Huntsville.
For 100 days we have been standing at a window at that same long-term care facility in Huntsville, trying to communicate with my mother-in-law, almost 96-years old. A wonderful personal support worker who had helped with her care, and whom we adored, was not allowed to help with her care once the pandemic hit. This was difficult for us, but especially for her. My mother-in-law smiles as family members stare into that window. What does she understand? She looks healthy and we only hope and pray that she is safe. We have faith in our long-term care facilities in Muskoka and they have not had any COVID cases to date.
As a 65-year-old woman, I wonder: what will long-term care look like in twenty years? I have a few ideas to share and I think that our government needs to consider my ideas for the future.
For the past ten years I have volunteered for an organization called Muskoka Seniors. This organization provides frozen meals for seniors, drives seniors to medical appointments and, best of all, before the COVID-19 pandemic they organized a weekly luncheon for seniors in Huntsville, Dorset, and Baysville. Their goal is to keep seniors living in their own homes for as long as possible, thus preventing them from having to enter the long term-care system for as long as possible. Our clients congregated to eat a lovely meal, to socialize, and to enjoy local entertainment. The benefits of these luncheons as well as the services that Muskoka Seniors is able to provide should not be underestimated. Unfortunately, funding for Muskoka Seniors is always a challenge. My hope is that our government will increase not only financial support but also acceptance of organizations like Muskoka Seniors.
I believe that the government should provide funding or tax breaks for homeowners who are willing and able to renovate their home to allow for an elder. Such renovations would need a bedroom on a lower level, with no stairs and an accessible washroom. Only then could an elder join a family instead of entering long-term care until absolutely necessary,
I believe that building companies should be provided with government funding or tax breaks if they are willing to design their homes with an elder in mind. A downstairs bedroom and accessible washroom is not a difficult task. Such homes would allow an older family member to join the family for as long as possible.
Finally, our governments and businesses must take into consideration people who are able to look after elders and to provide financial support and flexible working conditions in order to provide that care.
Those are my dreams for future long-term care and our elders. It will be me in not so many years, as well as millions of other baby boomers. We need to change our system to guarantee safe and humane care for our elders.
(Main photo: Sabine van Erp / Pixabay)
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