July 7th, 2020

Families face new hurdles after months of separation from loved ones

QUEEN’S PARK — Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on Doug Ford to fix the patchwork of visitation rules in long-term care that his refusal to act has created, as families who have gone through months of anguish face new hurdles to making sure their loved ones are doing okay.

Since the Ford government re-opened the door for visits in long-term care a month ago, reports have emerged of the inadequate and unequal access families are now confronting. Some people are being asked to provide documentation proving they’ve tested negative for COVID-19, with some even being asked to take multiple tests, while others aren’t. Some are seeing their appointments canceled because there aren’t enough staff to bring residents outside, while many are restricted to the arbitrary minimum of allowing just one family member visit only once per week for 30 minutes maximum.

“Families that normally check in on their loved ones regularly have been forced to advocate from afar for months, worried sick about their parents and grandparents as COVID-19 caused devastation in long-term care homes,” said Horwath. “They finally got a glimmer of hope and relief when they heard they would be allowed to reunite with the loved ones they have been missing so desperately, and instead they’re being asked to jump through hoops just to get precious little time.

“Just like Doug Ford has let for-profit long-term care operators set the inadequate standards of care for seniors in their homes, now he’s sitting on his hands, while for-profit long-term care operators create a patchwork of rules to go alongside restrictive and arbitrary time limits.”

On Tuesday, Horwath spoke with Susan McHardy, who lost her mother to COVID-19 in May and had to fight to get her father back into West Park Long Term Care in Etobicoke after he had recovered from COVID-19 in hospital. As her dad grieves the loss of his wife, McHardy says she was forced to choose between trying to keep him in the hospital where she could see him multiple times a week, or moving him back into long-term care, where she would be restricted from comforting him in person for more than a few minutes a week, even after the outbreak ends.

“Families like Susan’s have already been put through hell,” said Horwath. “It’s too soon for them to hug their loved one or give them any hands-on support — but arbitrary caps and unevenly enforced rules are only compounding their anguish.”


Susan McHardy
“After the loss of my mother, a long-term care resident, to COVID-19, and the three-month hospitalization of my father due to COVID-19, I realize how broken the system is. This government doesn’t have this under control, and they have not protected our loved seniors nor the workers who painstakingly care for them. Now, as many long-term care homes open for visits, the restrictions and parameters are ridiculous — from scheduling 30 minutes once a week to twice a month swabs for visitors to see their family. Our seniors are being held hostage by a government without a plan.”

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUkUNMWCI5I