Ontario, COVID-19 and the long-term care issue

BARRY’S BAY – COVID-19 has disproportionately affected seniors. And this seems to have gotten people thinking about how we deal with the elderly in this day and age.

On April 14, the Canadian Press reported that 90 percent of COVID deaths in Canada were of people 60 years of age and older. Indeed, according to Andrea Jarrett of CTV news, one home in Halifax accounts for more than one-third of all the COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia, and, not to mention, an astounding 89 percent of the province’s COVID deaths. Although a dramatic instance, it is nevertheless a fact that half of the deaths from the disease in this country so far have occurred in long-term care homes.

Care for the elderly is no simple matter. And, moreover, it is one that makes a great many of us uncomfortable. There is something about sending family members away that is hard for us to rationalize. We don’t send anyone else in the family away.

When we do, we trust our beloved elderly family members will get the medical care they can’t get at home, that there will be someone there who will make sure they get the food they need, and the stimulation they need.
You do not have to visit too many homes to know that there are so many good people working in these homes, people who take very seriously the responsibility they have of making the last years of the people under their care as happy as possible. Scandals are few, relatively speaking, but they do happen.

The fact is, most of us don’t know all that much about what goes on in these homes, and we would rather not spend too much time thinking about it. Most of us are very uncomfortable with decline and death.

The Ontario government announced on May 19 that it will open an independent commission into long-term care in the province. According to Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, this will examine “the long-term care system to get a better understanding of the impacts and responses to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

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