Right in the centre - Listening to the information


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

Last week, I put out a call for people to give me their thoughts on COVID-19 and especially about the care homes. Unlike our normal practise, I didn’t ask people to provide their names as some of the stories might come back and bite the writers. I just felt that it was important that all the people who died, especially those in care, did not die in vain. I think they would have wanted and their families would want some good to come out of this pandemic.

C-19 isn’t the first pandemic. To date, about 22,000 have died of C-19 in Canada, mostly older people. In the 1918 pandemic, the so-called Spanish Flu, 55,000 people died and the percentage of younger people was much higher, reportedly, than with COVID-19

Here are some ideas that have come so far, and I invite more.

•My mother lives in our local PCH (town not named) and like everyone else, has not been allowed out for almost a year. It makes very little sense to me that my wife and I can visit here whenever we want, but cannot take her to our house.

•Can anyone explain to me why the staff at our PCH had to make an appointment to get the vaccine in Winnipeg when the residents were having someone come in from Winnipeg to give them their shot? Counting the vet and the pharmacist, we must have 10 people capable of giving a needle.

Editor’s note: We pay to have someone come to the care home to vaccinate residents, but staff have to drive to Winnipeg. Did staff get wages or mileage to go?

•I think it’s a really important thing you’re doing, allowing people to tell their stories anonymously. So many things happened and so many deaths occurred that shouldn’t have if staffing had been appropriate and if relatives had been allowed to help.

It was heartbreaking to see how many elderly died from neglect and alone. I’m so thankful my mother died a few years ago, at the age of 100 and missed this pandemic. Even though she was well looked after in the local nursing home (no town named), something happened there that shouldn’t have. An order went out that all protective side rails were to be zip-tied down to the bed frame so there was no protection from rolling out of bed. A worker showed me a bed that could be lowered, but my mother didn’t happen to have one. There was a leaf on her wheelchair that meant that she was at risk of falling. Well, one night she fell out of bed and was only bruised. She fell out two nights later and broke her arm– her first broken bone in 98 years! In a “safe” place. Sometimes, people in charge don’t think of consequences. They just follow orders. I likened it to taking down a schoolyard fence without having something else in place to protect kids from traffic. Are the elderly less valuable than children?

•Something that puzzled me while Mom was in care was why did staff have to take on other jobs to make ends meet? One fellow was working at a pig barn. At the same time, this nursing home was hiring nurses from Ontario and putting them up at the motel and paying for their meals. I just didn’t get it. Maybe someone can explain that.

Editor’s note: The care homes and hospitals have been using contract workers for years. They sometimes travel long distances with the mileage cost and hotel and meals being paid by the particular facility. Does it make sense to have staff work half time and then have to get another job all the while paying extra costs for mileage, hotels and meals?

I suspect there are several places to lay the blame for this practise, but it makes no sense and costs a lot of money.