COVID-19 rips bandage off the open wound that is our nursing home system
None of us can imagine a beloved parent or grandparent in one of the nursing homes we are reading about without an involuntary shudder. Human beings dehydrated, starving, and left sitting in their own feces and urine in one Quebec institution. Military personnel deployed to homes desperate for staff. More than 1,000 people dead in long-term care homes across the country, and many more cowering in fear, sealed off from their loved ones as COVID-19 stalks the hallways of the nursing homes they live in.
Some of this is particular to this pandemic. No one could have been completely prepared for it.
However, COVID-19 has also ripped the bandage off an open wound, revealing what was previously there. It has exposed the inadequacy of the existing system.
Most nursing home residents have advanced incurable conditions — often dementia, but also heart, lung or kidney disease. People like me who work in nursing homes already know that care is driven by efficiency, rather than giving seniors with declining function the life they deserve. COVID-19 is showing us all why many of us would not choose these places for ourselves.
So what can we do?