‘It’s ludicrous and it’s dangerous’: seniors’ advocate cries foul over letters for personal care home help
A seniors’ care advocate is crying foul after letters from two Manitoba personal care homes were sent to residents’ families, warning they may need to help with care starting Monday.
“This is a crisis. Whether it’s a staffing crisis, an infectious bed crisis the issue is the same. We need more care for these personal care homes,” said Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge, a seniors’ advocacy organization.
Tamblyn Watts said in these rural communities, family members would already be looking after each other if they could.
“It is irresponsible to be sending that kind of missive out and not be raising the alarm bell to the government,” said Tamblyn Watts.
The letters, sent to family members of residents from both Salem Home in Winkler and Tabor Home in Morden, said they may need to help with laundry, feeding and other general duties.
The ask comes in advance of a potential staffing shortage on Monday when mandatory COVID-19 vaccination or routine COVID-19 testing for front-line health care staff comes into effect in the province.
“It’s ludicrous and it’s dangerous,” said Tamblyn Watts. “There’s a danger in having untrained people providing hands-on care.”
On Friday, Manitoba’s Health Minister Audrey Gordon said there are many contingency plans being looked at regarding staffing shortages due to the vaccine mandate, but Tamblyn Watts worries about a worse case scenario where there is widespread death and negligence.
Of the 42,000 staff, physicians, and others with direct contact with patients, residents, clients or their environments, 29,707 have indicated they are fully vaccinated to Shared Health by Friday, with 1,801 individuals identified as requiring testing. They work in a variety of roles and professions across the province.
Tamblyn Watts said Manitoba personal care homes have been dealing with staffing issues before the pandemic, and now through the pandemic, staffing levels have dropped by about 30 per cent and nothing has been done to address the issue.
CanAge supports the vaccine mandate for health care workers but believes more has to be done. Tamblyn Watts offered up a three-pronged approach that includes meeting communities locally and culturally to address vaccine hesitancy, making the vaccines more readily available and transforming personal care.
“Part of what that means is making the jobs in personal care in Manitoba are good paying safe jobs.”
With files from CTV’s Michelle Gerwing and Stephanie Tsicos