Jeanette Harper treasures every single moment she can spend with her mom, whether it’s in person or virtually.
“It would be nicer to see my face, wouldn’t it mom?” she says to her mother over video chat.
Harper’s mother currently resides in long-term care on Vancouver Island and due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, her visits are limited to one hour even though both are fully vaccinated and visits are scheduled ahead of time.
“My mother has deteriorated quite a bit over the last year, which is to be expected when someone has dementia,” Harper said. “I do feel the deterioration accelerated due to the isolation.”
Harper would like to see changes to the way long-term care facilities operate to allow for more flexibility with visitations — particularly as her mother’s health gets worse.
“She has lost the will and the ability to walk, and likes to spend more time in bed than not,” Harper said.
There are provincial guidelines for visits, and the minimum is one hour.
But not every facility is equal in doling out visits.
That’s something the majority of contracted providers are attempting to repair, according to Terry Lake, chief executive officer of the B.C. Care Providers Association.
“I think some operators are just really anxious for their residents and staff,” Lake said. “But I do believe that we really need to work with families to make sure that as many opportunities for safe visitation are taking place. Because it’s just critical to the quality of life for those elders in care.”
Isobel Mackenzie, the province’s official seniors advocate, agrees.
“I do think that a level of greater standardization and less interpretation might have been helpful for family members,” she told CHEK News.
At the end of the day, Harper says she would just love to see her mother more often and worries about her ongoing health.
“It’s very sad, and I feel like I missed a lot of time with her in the last year as many families do.”