Downtown Concerned Citizens Organization

Why are vaccinated seniors being treated this way?

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Cindy Allaer was in tears as she spoke of the isolation and loneliness felt by her 88-year-old dad in his southwestern Ontario long-term care home — who just saw her mom and his wife of 65 years this past week after nearly six months apart.

That visit, she says, was an “extremely cruel and painful experience” because her dad, George, had to sit in a glass box and couldn’t hug her mom.

She says her 84-year-old mom had to meet him outside because she’s too frail to be an essential caregiver that visits regularly and consistently in his room.

But, as Allaer says, her dad had COVID during a massive outbreak in January and is now fully vaccinated.

Her mom, she says, has had COVID as well and her first vaccine.

The rules from the LTC home and the LTC ministry require that visitors (up to two at a time)  physically distance by two metres even if they’re fully vaccinated, undergo active screening upon arrival and wear a face mask.

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The LTC ministry says outdoor visits may also take place in the “general vicinity” of the home — such as at local parks or parkettes.

“If my dad has had COVID and he’s been vaccinated I do not understand why they couldn’t have visits with elderly spouses where they can hug each other and spend a little time together?” Allaer asked. “I don’t think it’s reasonable at the end of your life not to have spouses you can see (properly) … that to me is inhumane.”

Even essential caregivers — she is one — are “constrained” to her dad’s room. In other words, she can’t take her dad for a walk or participate in some sort of activity with him.

She makes excellent points.

As does Kristin Hunter, whose 65-year-old dad is a London-area LTC suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s. She says she’s not been allowed to become an essential caregiver in addition to her brother, even though the ministry directive says two are permitted.

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Even though her dad is also fully vaccinated — and had COVID in January — when she visited him this past week, there were “multiple tables” between them and she had to “awkwardly sit down” without being able to hug him.

She also notes that she felt like staff from the home were closely monitoring her and that she didn’t have any “privacy.”

While I can visit my mom in her room as an essential caregiver, she can’t come out to my home for a meal or sit at an outdoor cafe with me for a change of scenery. I can’t take her for walks around her retirement home either.

I am fully vaccinated as is my mom, who is ready to crawl the walls.

What gives Dr. (Merrilee) Fullerton?

It’s been nearly 15 months now and the rules for visiting loved ones in LTC homes and retirement homes are no different than last summer when outbreaks were a huge risk.

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All LTC and retirement residents have been fully vaccinated, as have their essential caregivers,

Yet homes continue to lock them inside like zoo animals.

Has the LTC ministry not learned any lessons from the past year or is their intent to keep residents imprisoned yet again until many succumb to loneliness or decline even further cognitively?

Or are these rules just expedient for them because they continue to have staff shortages?

What exactly was the purpose of vaccinating residents if the ministry and LTC and retirement homes insist on keeping them confined to their rooms for a large portion of the week?

Our politicians need to acquire some courage and trust that the vaccines work.

LTC and retirement residents need to be permitted to return to some semblance of a life as they knew it before COVID.

To do anything but that is cruel and punitive.

SLevy@postmedia.com

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