The potential for a sixth wave of COVID-19 in New Brunswick puts seniors at another risk of long and lonely isolation, a seniors advocate says.
Cecile Cassista is the Executive Director of the Coalition for the Rights of Seniors and Residents of Nursing Homes.
“No technology or phone or visit to the window will replace the loved one, holding hands,” Cassista said in an interview with Global News.
Throughout the waves of COVID-19 that have hit New Brunswick, seniors, especially those living in nursing homes, have experienced long periods away from family and friends.
Recently released COVID-19 data indicated the province continues to trend upward in cases, prompting Cassista to seek appropriate guidance if nursing homes are forced to implement strict measures.
“There are lessons to be learned that we need to ensure that workers are vaccinated. We need to make sure they don’t work in multiple locations and that all security procedures are in place,” she said, adding that it is “inhumane” to deprive family members of seeing their relatives.
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Cassista said the lack of consistency when it comes to rules and regulations in nursing homes also needs to be addressed.
Currently, nursing homes, which are private entities in New Brunswick, set their own policies and procedures. Cassista hopes to see consistency between homes, similar to the COVID-19 rules established by regional health authorities, which apply to all facilities in the respective network.
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“It was really heartbreaking to hear a family member say that we are five, five sisters, and only two of us can go in. And in some houses they can go in, and in some houses they can’t. can’t come in. , so that’s basically where the inconsistency lies.
However, Cassista said, the current government doesn’t want to “really set the rules for uniformity in long-term care” and avoid confusion.
According to the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes, they are once again experiencing the presence of COVID-19.
“When there is increased activity in the community, it means there is increased activity in some nursing homes. I can tell you that homes are now well prepared to deal with it. We’ve learned a lot over the past two years,” said CEO Julie Weir.
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Nursing homes, like other sectors, are seeing the virus impact staffing levels, although Weir said facilities continue to find ways to manage.
Weir said long periods of isolation and lack of social interaction for nursing home residents has become a concern across the country.
“When I think back to the first, second and third waves, you know, the rules have loosened up, especially in the area of designated support person and trying to initiate visits in a safe way where everyone understands the risks and accepts the risks because there are definitely associated risks,” Weir said.
Asked about Cassista’s comments about the confusion caused by multiple sets of rules and a demand for consistency between nursing homes, Weir declined to comment.
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