June 9, 2021
Nova Scotia’s ‘Unofficial Reopening Plan’ of May 29th contained mostly empty boxes under the heading of ‘Long-Term Care” (LTC). There is little indication so far that there will be tangible changes to restrictions in this sector. To date, there has been little mention about LTC residents in briefings.
The Nova Scotia Reopening plan consists of 5 phases and LTC is only mentioned in the first and last phase. There is no meaningful decrease in restrictions for LTC residents with phases 2-5. In stark contrast, ALL other residents in NS will experience decreased restrictions with each phase. Why are LTC residents so unfairly treated when they have endured a heavy burden of isolation for over 14 months?
LTC residents, staff, and Designated Care Givers (DCG) were the first in the province to be double vaccinated, but why are they so neglected in the reopening plan? Residents are losing hope, and sadly, some want to die. Some have died because of the isolation and the lack of quality of life.
Even though there have been clear guidelines given for residents to receive DCG visits, some facilities have severely restricted these visits from happening. There is no consistent application for visits or reductions in covid restrictions in LTC. Unfairly, facility administrators can make their own rules about visits and restrictions no matter what the government / Public Health recommends. For some LTC residents, for example, visits must be booked 10 days in advance for a 30-minute visit, while other residents can have a daily DCG visit for an unlimited length of time.
It makes no sense why LTC residents continue to live in such isolation. In Phase 2, the general population will be able to dine out, go to the gym or library, shop and travel freely in the Atlantic region, yet long-term care residents will not be able to leave the nursing home. Residents should have the ability to leave the facility and visit with family who are also vaccinated (for example). At the moment, unvaccinated workers are going into the homes, while family members who are fully vaccinated are strictly controlled. How does this make sense?
A continued lockdown for LTC residents while everyone else can enjoy increasing freedoms is not only inhumane, but also against their human rights. Preventing Elders from having visits is a form of elder abuse.
We want this government to promptly consider the rights and wishes of LTC residents and ensure they are fairly treated with regards to “reopening”. We want Premier Rankin and Dr. Strang to recognize the negligence and undue suffering LTC residents have endured and to legislate that all LTC facilities (both licensed and unlicensed) have consistent rights for residents to have and make visits and to ensure that they will be able to enjoy the same reduction of restrictions as all Nova Scotians.
There are over 8,000 Nova Scotians living in the LTC sector who have contributed to our province. They deserve better consideration. We call upon the citizens of NS to help us impress upon current and future government representatives to make better care and circumstances for our Elders a top priority.