Long Term Care 

 

COVID-19 released its greatest fury in Canadian long-term care homes. On June 2020, the Canadian Medical Association Journal estimated that approximately 70% of all Canadian COVID-19 deaths, occurred in long-term residences (LTC) and assisted living facilities. Conditions in some of homes are reportedly appalling. Health care workers, touted publicly for their heroic service, undergo workplace harassment in ways comparable to third-world sweatshops.  The quality of attention, in these places, has sunken well below levels spiritualists or secularists should consider humane. Elders left unclean, malnourished, and abandoned to die. Any society that values its oil, above its citizenry's health, shows little resemblance to the Kingdom of God. A national tragedy unfolds these very days in long-term care homes. The higher than average, severe outcomes rate, among this demographic should shame any developed nation. Age, frailty, and comorbidities, across this population base, exposes some of society’s most vulnerable to severe outcomes. The impact of COVID-19 on residents in LTCs must awaken the national conscience.

 

In June 2020, The Canadian Institute for Health, published unflattering findings regarding the state of extended care in this country. A key point from their report indicated that while Canada's overall COVID-19 mortality rate ranked relatively low, when compared with rates from countries belonging to, The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), this nation suffered the highest proportion of deaths in long-term care facilities (LTC). LTC residents accounted for 81% of all reported COVID-19 deaths in Canada, compared with an average of 38% in other OECD countries. In Canada, COVID-19 infected more than 9,650 LTC staff members representing more than 10% of the country's total cases. As of May 25, 2020, nine health care workers died of COVID-19.[1]

 

Provinces are constitutionally responsibility for health care delivery. Still, without national governance, there exists only loose agreements across regions with few standards. Jurisdiction squabbles historically pit Alberta's right leaning government and the federal left at odds over funding. People in the Diocese of Calgary, consistently endorse the conservative movement. An early September Angus Reid poll showed that the Alberta Premier, however, achieved the second-lowest approval rating among provincial leaders in Canada. According to the survey, only about two in five respondents said the UCP leader is doing a good job.[2]   Alberta public sentiment may be shifting. The continuing care workforce staffed mainly by racialized and under-compensated women, may be more loyal to Canada than Alberta. Confusing public messages resonate from societies who compensate an amateur hockey player more than a long-term health care worker?

 

Personal care workers (or health care aides) deliver much more than day-to-day physical assistance. Psychological and spiritual comfort offered by these workers is regrettably, little appreciated by metrics-focused management, insisting on hurried and sterile care.[3] Workers in this field earn as little as $14 per hour to $25 per hour even after several years of accumulated seniority. J. Russell reported for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) on October 13, 2020, that Alberta Health Services (AHS) even plans to layoff between 9,700 and 11,000 workers in linen, laboratory, cleaning, and in-patient food services. Amid a pandemic, with all the uncertainty wage-earners suffer, government chooses to defend capitalism, over protecting barely managing working people. Another shame! Inferior pay forces some employees to work shifts in multiple care homes, simply to earn a family wage. Residents share rooms, and workers attend to their duties under pressure to accommodate stringent performance metrics, grossly dishonoring the dignity of this special work.[4]  Governments with no long term care policy demonstrate that unchecked capitalism again fails to distribute wealth and resources equitably. Secularism desperately needs input on this front from well-experienced religious specialists. 

 

 

 

[1] See Canadian Institute for Health Information. Pandemic Experience in the Long-Term Care Sector: How Does Canada Compare With Other Countries? Ottawa, ON: CIHI; 2020.

[2] Albertans increasingly critical of UCP government's response to COVID-19 and struggling economy, poll suggests CBC News · Posted: Aug 31, 2020 11:47 AM MT | Last Updated: September 2.

[3] From personal conversations with nurses serving in long term care homes.

[4] Information reported by family members working in LTC facilities. Employee satisfaction appears demoralizing.

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