Long-term care homes impacted by shortage of rapid tests

Long-term care homes impacted by shortage of rapid tests

Debi Gregory says her visits with her mom, who lives in long-term care, have been impacted by the new public health measures.

For now, Gregory speaks with her 87-year old mother, Ruth Salaga, on the phone through the window at the long-term care home.

“It’s been a truly difficult journey for us as a family, and for my mom,” Gregory said.

A provincial health order limited visits with residents in long-term care to essential visitors only as of Jan. 1.

But Gregory said no one is allowed in to see her mother.

“I received an email from the administrator saying that the care home is changing their policy as of today, and they will allow one designated visitor in the near future,” Gregory said.

But she doesn’t know when that will be.

The availability of rapid tests seems to be related to the confusion over visitation.

Earlier Island Health emailed long-term care operators directing them to review the number of essential visitors because of the limited number of rapid tests.

READ MORE: National standards for long-term care must balance safety, quality of life

Then family members received an email that they should consider keeping the visits to a minimum.

On Wednesday, Island Health clarified that essential visits will continue.

Jeanette Harper usually visits her mother, Marguerite Bell, every day at Nanaimo’s Eden Gardens.

“My mom’s facility saying really consider your visits. Only go in unless absolutely necessary,” Harper said. “For all of us, we feel every visit is absolutely necessary when we go visit our loved ones.”

B.C.’s Seniors Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie said less than 25 per cent of applications for essential visitors are approved in the province.

“Care homes deny more requests than it approves on average for designated essential visitors,” Mackenzie said.

Mackenzie said the burden on families is too much.

“What are the rights you retain when you are in long term care?” Mackenzie asked. “It is your home. You pay to be there. Everybody pays something to be there.”

As for Gregory, she cannot wait to finally see her mother, in person, again.

“I am just going to hug her. And not let her go.”

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!