Sumary of Long-term care needs neglected in federal election platforms, despite COVID-19 crisis:
- As a long-time researcher of the health and social impacts of dementia, I keep a constant, close eye on what governments do to support 500,000 Canadians living in residential care facilities and 7.8 million family caregivers.
- So far during this election campaign, I have seen little to inspire hope that any party leader recognizes the pressing needs of seniors in care, 87 per cent of whom are cognitively impaired, or of the families who devote time and energy to them.
- Let’s not forget that in the first wave of COVID-19, long-term care (LTC) residents accounted for 81 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths in Canada (the highest proportion of LTC COVID-19 deaths in the world) and tens of thousands were left to suffer in isolation, for months on end.
- Families as essential caregivers Along with loneliness, sickness and death, COVID-19 brought attention to the crucial role that family members play in supporting people in long-term care.
- Most caregivers are women, who bear the brunt of government inattention to the cost to their mental and physical health as they provide “free” care to their elderly loved ones, who are also mostly women.
- A commonly cited national benchmark for quality long-term care is just over four hours a day of direct care per resident.
- British Columbia uses a target of 3.36 hours per day, and Manitoba averages 3.6. Family caregivers pick up the slack.
- Locking family members out of long-term care homes during COVID-19 meant a loss of care for many residents.