‘They want their families:’ Nanaimo residents plead to visit COVID-19 closed care homes


A thick window separated 89-year-old Marguerite Bell from her two daughters as they visited her Nanaimo care home Saturday.

“We really miss being able to see you mom,” said Bell’s daughter Margaret Corcoran. “It’s been three months.”

They smiled and shared memories during the 15-minute visit that they get each week.

This is the 15-minute window visit they get each week because COVID-19 has forced the long-term care facility to restrict in-person visits for the last 14 weeks and counting.

Since COVID-19 has closed off long term care from in-person visits for over three months now, Bell’s daughters have only been able to see her through a window for about 15 minutes each week.

Over the past few weeks, the province has moved through its reopening phase, allowing everything from movies and nightclubs to reopen under strict guidelines.

But when it comes to care homes, the province’s guidelines haven’t changed. Presently, essential workers are only into such facilities, a measure that remains in place in order to prevent B.C.’s most vulnerable from being infected.

Bell’s daughters are among those who are now appealing for more contact before it is too late.

“What we’re concerned about too is if a second wave happens in the fall and there’s another lockdown and we haven’t been able to see her over the next month or two,” said Corcoran, adding.”You know it is going to be really heartbreaking.”

Carmen Barclay, whose husband Stanley is in the same care home as Marguerite Bell, said she’s worried her husband will die before she can even see him.

“My biggest fear is that he’s going to die in there,” Barclay said, adding. “That’s my biggest fear that they’re not going to let us back in.”

Sunday will be the first Father’s Day that Mary Dewar hasn’t spent with her husband Robert, who has Alzheimer’s disease, in 36 years. Dewar is also an advocate for the group Seniors in Care Crisis and says those in care homes want to be with their families.

“There’s no quality of life for these people,” said Mary Dewar. “They’ve been incarcerated for no fault other than being old and needing help and they’ve been denied access to their families.

Dewar is also an advocate for the group Seniors in Care Crisis and says those in care homes want to be with their families.

“They want their families,” said Dewar. “This is a huge issue.”

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has acknowledged the struggle seniors and elders in care homes have faced.

“I am incredibly heartened by the resiliency of our seniors and elders,” Henry said back on June 15. “But it is the most challenging question that we have because it’s a balancing of quality of life all around,” she said.

Still, knowing their days with their loved ones in care are already numbered, some families are urging the province to reconsider by requiring family members to wear personal protective equipment to meet without windows between them.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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