A Langford woman is struggling to give her 84-year-old mom the care she needs and deserves.
Michele Lee says home-care from Island Health for her mother Kathleen has become increasingly unreliable with last-minute cancellations.
“Most of that care falls onto me,” said Lee. “I’m just exhausted because there’s just so much to do all the time.”
Five years ago, her mother Kathleen’s health began to decline, starting with a sudden stroke and then two broken hips within half a year. Lee soon found her care was more than she could handle alone, and signed up to receive Island Health’s at-home care.
Lee tells CHEK News her mother’s at-home care has been inconsistent, unreliable, and often cancelled with short notice, sometimes multiple times per week. She’s told it’s due to a staffing shortage, with home-care workers telling her hundreds of appointments are being cancelled weekly.
“All they can say is ‘we’re sorry, put her in private care, put her in a home,'” Lee said, adding that home care is the only option she can afford.
Island Health told CHEK News in a statement that they are aware of the situation.
“We acknowledge the family’s frustration and concern about their loved one’s care,” the health authority said.”Clients with the highest care needs are the highest priority for home support visits. Clients with optional non-critical visits may be rescheduled.”
It’s not the first time healthcare workers have been a no-show for elderly at-home patients on southern Vancouver Island.
In September, CHEK News spoke with Jennifer Lush whose legally blind and paraplegic 86-year-old mother was left lying in bed helpless two times in one week when home-support workers didn’t show up for work, and her daughter wasn’t notified.
The B.C. General Employees Union (BCGEU), which represents community healthcare sector workers says community workers make less money compared to their peers doing this same job in healthcare facilities.
“This compensation gap is at the root of a long-standing staffing crisis in the sector,” said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.
The BCGEU is currently negotiating with British Columbia’s health organizations, working to close that gap to create equitable pay and solve the staffing crisis in home care.
Meanwhile, people like Lee are having to take on more care than they can handle. She says the province has let down a generation.
“We’re supposed to honour our parents. Is this honouring our elderly?” said Lee.