What does the future hold for seniors in Ontario?
It’s seems like an eternity ago we learned about Elizabeth Wettlaufer the killer nurse who took the lives of 8 residents of nursing homes between 2007 and 2016. Covid-19 has now claimed the lives of over 60+ residents in nursing homes, yet she remains as one of Canada’s most infamous serial killers.
When the dust settles the question on many baby boomers mind could be: do I want to send my mother or father into Long Term Care or Retirement facility when either of their time comes?
Will home care be the choice for so many as our population rapidly becomes one of the oldest in the Country?
My thought, to be honest, is likely. But as I look into what the future may hold, I wonder just how long will the traditional method of home care be able to operate before the small cracks in its foundation are exposed just as COVID-19 has now exposed them in long term care and retirement homes?
As a private home health care operator since 2012 I could write a book with the challenges that present themselves on a daily basis. Cars not starting, weather not permitting travel, clerical errors, and yes even unethical practices such as theft of money and valuables. In some instances, a care giver might go as far as to move in with their senior client. They might even go so far as to assume power of attorney for those seniors who left it too late and now rely on the goodwill of others to make calls about care, finances and even the family homestead.
Why do we plan our retirement savings, plan for vacations, plan for our kids education, and spend countless hours to plan a wedding, yet we don’t plan for what we all know is coming, growing old.
Since Castle Keep has ceased serving seniors the last two weeks my phone continues to ring with questions about helping folks with their aged loved ones. It’s always a twenty-minute conversation followed by a statement. “I think my parent needs one hour in the morning and one hour at night for help.” Followed by, “but I don’t want that caregiver being with anyone else to reduce my parents’ risk.”
This is how we all think when it comes to health care. Treat the acute need, and hope that the water doesn’t flow over the dyke. But the water always, always flows over, time waits for no man. Death and taxes, all this stuff we ought to know by now is just forgotten when in trying to band-aid fix a crisis.
Back to my initial question, do I think home care will be more popular after this is all behind us? Yes, I do, but I also predict that the traditional home care model must change. If it doesn’t, it will be us PSW’s, striving to improve senior’s quality of life who will be the next group of Typhoid Mary’s, unwittingly bringing communicable disease to those in our care, all one hundred thousand of us in Ontario.
Like Ontario’s needed, yet scrapped, basic income attempt (piloted in my home town of Lindsay) we all need to live with some basic level of income don’t we? Why has our Government not yet figured out that in the face of a healthcare crisis, many of us who could be the hero’s on the frontline with many other PSW’s have chose not to be. Why?
We will make more income safe at home with our families than going to work in some of the most deadly environments in our Country.
This is what we need.
Minimum home care shift lengths must be implemented. Mileage fees for travelling caregivers as the norm, benefits to help us with our back pain, blood pressure, and asthma as we serve the WWII veteran who smokes 2 packs of Export A’s in his kitchen each day.
We need access to Personal Protection Equipment, home life balance, and to be treated like we treat our clients; with respect and dignity.
This should come at some cost to us, like the Spider-Man monologue says, “with great power comes great responsibility.” We should be regulated like nurses so the public can be sure that we won’t push the boundaries without knowing it could lead to future hardships to us and those in our care.
We all should be expected to continue to learn and grow educationally each year, as new procedures, developments, and diseases need to be planned for in advance, not in the eye of the storm.
We should have to join support groups and support one another to reduce the fierce competition for “full time lines” or night shift vs. dayshift comparisons.
Our names should be proudly posted on our chests so every single client, resident, family member, or guest knows who we are, who we work for, and where we can be reached for any questions or concerns related to our work.
We can do this, both private and government funded organizations alike. We need to have some basic income related to serving others, and basic accountabilities for our actions. It’s really that simple.
I’ll volunteer to help develop a plan, better still I’d like to be compensated to help draw up a plan, as us PSW’s have been volunteering our time for far too long. I’ve done it before just a year ago, helped to form a board to regulate PSW curriculum only to see the funding not be released. I believe that for the Government to try and solve all of these looming challenges they are going to need to ask some of us from the front line as we know what is needed, just ask.
What makes Castle Keep services unique you ask? We listen and accommodate to what a client may want. Is it safe for 80 year olds to enjoy a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverages before a meal? Well it can increase chances of fatigue or a fall, but ask yourself what is safe? Safety can be provided in a nursing home, but would you compromise “safety” for quality of life? Our role at Castle Keep is to encourage (within reason) clients to manage risk with quality of life. So what do you think of having that glass of wine now? What does your personal retirement look like. Do you love pets, entertaining, cooking, gardening, going for a walk? All of this makes us who we are, and we want to know. We go so far as to connect our team with clients who we think will be a good “fit”. If a team member doesn’t know how to cork a bottle of wine and serve a glass, then they won’t be asked to help with Kate. Now that’s customized service!
“Wow, you have such a special company, comprised of so many special people, congratulations to you all for the difference you make every single day of the year, in the lives of so many people. You can all be proud - job well done. From our family, to yours, thank you, thank you, thank you, for allowing my Dad to be able to stay in his Castle for many more years than otherwise would have been possible. I truly believe that if not for your services my Dad would not be with us today. If he had been in a home, before his time, I believe he would have lost hope. While his time might be now, it is because he is ready, not because he had to be warehoused somewhere because no services were available. Sadly time waits for no one and the next phase appears to be upon us. Please know that you won't be forgotten and keep doing the special job, that special people like you do.” -Steve B. Buffalo, NY
“I cannot thank you enough for the amazing experience I had with our organization and your staff. Each staff I met were outstanding individuals. They not only supported the client, they also supported me during a difficult time. Please share my gratitude with your staff! Graham, you have developed and amazing organization with the staff and services you provide. I will be sharing my exceptional experience with many! Keep up the great work!!" -Karen C. Lindsay, On
“When my mother fell and was taken to the hospital it started a chain of events that needed to be dealt with so she could safely return to her home. Being in her own home is my mother's wish and as a family we are supportive of her decision. The problem of living and working three hours away prevents being on hand to help. This is where Castle Keep literally came to the rescue. Within hours of my first contact with Castle Keep an assessment had been done and the Castle Keep team were providing care within 24 hours. It was remarkable how efficiently and effectively the team rolled out additional care for my mother. The relief from worry provided to families at a critical time is invaluable. Castle Keep is a team of professionals working in different roles within a complex ever changing situation called 'life'. It is with much gratitude that I say thank you to each member of the team who was involved in the care of my mother. We are indeed lucky to have this excellent organization operating In Lindsay!” -Christine O. Kingston, On
“My family and I want to thank you and Joanne for all the care you provided my Dad of the last few years. It has been very reassuring to know that you and Joanne were there for our Dad and we appreciate all the care and attention you provided. Thank you to Castle Keep and to Joanne.” -Jane, Kathleen and Janet W. Lindsay, On
“Thank you to you and your team of volunteers for providing a superb event for the seniors of our great town!! Please accept our sincere appreciation for your continued support. You make it possible for us to provide support to individuals and their families travelling the dementia journey. Many Thanks” -Carolyn H. Lindsay, On
“Just wanted to say how much I appreciate you and your staff for the great job you are doing. I couldn't do it without you. I think I would go in the POOR HOUSE just to have your help. Thanks so much!" -Carol L. Lindsay, On
“Things have moved so fast our heads are spinning. I would be remiss if I didn’t say how amazing Castle Keep has been for Mom and Dad. You will be held in very high regard by our family and we are forever grateful. A very special thank you to Kim. She is an amazing caregiver and developed a very special relationship with Mom.” -Margaret T Lindsay, On
“Thank you so much for everything! “ -Sylvia M. Bobcaygeon, On
“Thank you so much for all that you do each and every day! The kindness and loving care provided to my Momma will never be forgotten.” -Heather M. Woodville, On
“Just wanted to say how much I appreciate your staff for the great job you are doing. I couldn’t do it without you.” -Carol L. Kawartha Lakes, On