Advocates want increased visitation at care homes, say resident’s mental health is declining

Brenda Brophy
WatchBrenda Brophy pulled her mom out of long-term care after the isolation amid the pandemic caused her mom's mental physical health to decline.

Victoria resident Brenda Brophy used to visit her 100-year-old mom, Dot, nearly every day in her long-term care facility.

But then, the pandemic hit.

“Seven months of basic isolation in her room with no activities, and months and months with no visitation, and when I was allowed to see her it was for 45 minutes every two weeks,” said Brophy.

Brophy says her mom’s mental and physical health declined during the time she couldn’t visit her.

Dot not only lost 10 pounds while in long-term care, her dementia quickly worsened, according to her daughter.

“She was always laying in bed, there was nothing to do, the music isn’t on, the TV isn’t on,” said Brophy. “Imagine that’s your reality.”

In September, Brophy pulled her mom out of long-term care to live at home. She believes the move saved Dot’s life.

“I don’t believe she would be with us now if we hadn’t taken her out when we did,” said the concerned daughter. “The staff are needed for the tasks, but the quality of life comes from the family.”

She’s not the only one taking loved ones out of long-term care facilities. Brophy says she knows many other people who have done so, and hundreds more with concerns about long-term care homes.

As a result, she’s started a Facebook support group for others with loved ones in similar situations.

Those care workers, meanwhile, are feeling the weight of the extra responsibility while operating understaffed.

“It’s not just me, we are working short non-stop,” said Shannon Warnock, a long term care worker in Victoria. “It’s not our building, it’s pandemic wide, people are pulling double times.”

Warnock says she’s seen the decline in resident’s mental health firsthand but there just isn’t enough help.

“We have a mental health floor, but for us, I see burnout because of the overtime, and doing double duty and putting our all in, and people are worried about their own families,” said Warnock.

In B.C., only one designated person is allowed to visit someone in long-term care, but it’s up to each facility to determine how long and how often.

Brophy says most facilities in B.C. are needlessly too strict.

“There was the ability in the orders to allow in-room visits, to have them more often, longer durations, window visits with family and it just simply wasn’t allowed,” said Brophy. “Experts across Canada have said it can be safely done.”

READ MORE: Island Health expands COVID-19 vaccination clinics to central, north Vancouver Island

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!