Pressure-cookers and seniors
Covid-19 has brought out Aylmer’s helpful and generous nature. Fundraisers, birthday car processions, grocery shopping for each other, these helpful community actions have blossomed in the last six weeks.
A new fundraiser came across my desk in recent days: a campaign to buy air conditioner units for the most vulnerable in our public seniors’ homes, the CHSLDs. This shortage is as surprising as the schools asking parents to donate fans for over-heated classrooms. Public institutions with a responsibility for the well-being of residents clearly must be equipped for Canada’s weather.
This lack of air conditioners in seniors’ homes is saddening. If the community is already raising money to purchase air conditioners, the efforts announced by the province are still very much a work in progress. On May 25, Premier Legault launched the notion of transforming an area of every CHSLD with enough space into a group cooling area. As the weather pushes to 30 degrees, with high humidity, the discomfort of CHSLD residents is guaranteed.
There is common agreement among health administrators, health care professionals, families with seniors living in CHSLDs, and the political class, that Quebec must improve the conditions inside residences. Workers there must be hired as full-time professionals, no more of this part-time, stop-gap hiring. That is why so many personal care workers have cross-infected residences. And their part-time status is why the system was missing some 9,000 personal care workers for weeks at a time.
The government’s encouragement of Quebecers to apply for work in CHSLDs continues. It’s a challenge to attract people to work in institutions with high rates of Covid-19, not to mention seeing the heart-breaking living situations of so many seniors, many in isolation.
Add May’s sweltering heat to an already pressure-cooker situation. There’s no wonder the general population wants to do more for Quebec’s seniors! We’ll all be there, sooner or later. Fundraisers for A/C units certainly is an action every person can share. But contributing to improving the living conditions inside CHSLDs and other health-care institutions does not stop with putting money into a fundraiser.
The political leaders of Quebec have made a commitment to improve conditions inside residences. While the population has proven to be patient, with physical distancing and self-isolation producing low general population numbers with Covid-19 infection, Quebecers can’t be patient on the issue of the interior temperature where seniors live.
A minimum standard of care includes making sure seniors aren’t alone in their rooms, growing dehydrated. Hopefully Aylmer’s expectation in this matter will be addressed with an early announcement of the province-wide purchase and installation of air-conditioning units in CHSLDs.