The results are simply heartbreaking.
People living in care homes are more afraid of dying of loneliness than of COVID-19.
That is the sentiment of B.C. seniors’ advocate Isobel Mackenzie in releasing the results of a province-wide survey last week on the impact of visit restrictions at long-term and assisted living homes.
According to Mackenzie, these comments were echoed by hundreds of family members who participated in the survey.
“The comments we heard from hundreds of family members is a greater fear of death from loneliness because of pandemic rules that limit visits,” said Mackenzie.
And while Mackenzie notes that provincial health officials have her profound gratitude for their quick and comprehensive actions at the beginning of the pandemic, and many lives were saved, residents and families recognize that the pandemic will continue for many more months and the survey results are clear, they are all asking for more time with their loved ones.
She says that 16 per cent of respondents support the current one-visitor policy and that most want longer and more frequent visits, with an overwhelming majority saying visits should be more private, without barriers, and that touching should be allowed.
Mackenzie goes onto point out that the visit restrictions are in place to ensure those living in long-term care or assisted living are safe, but it begs the question, “what are we keeping them safe for if it is not to enjoy the time they have left with the ones they love?”
Mackenzie’s report suggests that the system failed to recognize the essential care some family members were providing.
She is calling for visitation rules to be relaxed and for residents and their family members to have a greater say in decisions. Provincial health officials have already indicated they are prepared to take steps in that direction.
Those steps can’t happen soon enough as far as I’m concerned.
Government needs to act and act now.
Our seniors and their families deserve better.