Tragic death toll among seniors in nursing homes was half a century in the making, says elder care expert.
By MICHAEL BROWN
Canadians are witnessing a tragedy unfold in the nation’s long-term care system that’s been a half-century in the making, according to a University of Alberta elder care expert.
Carole Estabrooks said blame for the mounting COVID-19 seniors’ home death toll should not be placed on front-line workers otherwise known as care aides or personal support workers.
“We’ve been holding it together with duct tape,” said the Canada Research Chair in Knowledge Translation in the Faculty of Nursing. “I think the care aides who work in long-term care are heroes and when they have left their posts or have been perceived to, whatever the reason, we should pause a minute before we ‘blame and shame.’
“We should think about how bad, how desperate it must have been for them to do that.”
Of the more than 1,200 Canadian deaths attributable to COVID-19 so far, about half have happened in long-term care residences. The worst disaster is playing out in a Montreal care facility where 31 seniors have died in less than a month. Authorities arrived at the site to find that 100-plus residents had been abandoned by much of the staff. The military, hospital staff, and volunteer nurses and physicians have been called in to stem the crisis.