The COVID-19 pandemic is nearing the one-year mark, a significant milestone that is a testament to our innovation and perseverance. From initial struggle and fear to innovation and unity, the novel coronavirus pushed Canadians to band together and fight through the pandemic that has affected us all. Although people social distance, wear masks and limit interactions with other people – which has helped curb down rates of transmission – there are some people that have fallen through the cracks.
In the first wave of the pandemic, 81 per cent of COVID-19 deaths were in long-term care homes, which was nearly double that of other developed nations. As of late August, more than 7,000 people in LTC have died due to COVID-19.
Now that we’re well underway the second wave of the pandemic, change is desperately needed. We know that the elderly are vulnerable to the virus and that shortages in nurses, personal care workers and personal protective equipment have contributed to this problem. We know that greater funding for LTCs, coordination with public health and hospitals, more comprehensive inspections and better management of long-term care homes can help combat this issue. But the question is: have we learned from past mistakes?
The COVID-19 hotspots arising in long-term care homes throughout the country suggest that we haven’t. Our elderly population deserve to feel protected and supported during and beyond this time of global uncertainty and precariousness. LTCs should be one of the first sectors considered for enhanced COVID-19 screening processes and preventative measures. Without implementing proper active screening measures, keeping our vulnerable citizens safe will be unnecessarily filled with uncertainty and insecurity.
After COVID-19, Canada’s health systems and protocols will be irrevocably changed. These deaths should serve as a call to action for us to do and be better. Our pandemic response needs to be inclusive and equitable, making sure no one is left behind to face the brunt of the risks by themselves.
BY Vanessa Balintec