For what it’s worth, I want to share my experience about the direction life is heading in nursing homes. This is in Canada. Feel free to post, just leave off my name.
I am self-employed working with seniors, and until March, a lot of this was in a local nursing home, supplementing the care covered by the system for some of the residents who needed extra attention. I doubt I’ll work there again, which makes it easier to talk freely.
This is not to cast aspersions on anyone in particular; all the staff I’ve known and worked with have been genuine, caring people who do what they can to make a homelike environment for the people under their care. It’s just that they are stuck in a system that makes it harder and harder to do that.
A few things happened simultaneously in early March – were they coincidences? I have no way of knowing. A new manager came in from out of town, and suddenly wanted to follow rules I hadn’t ever known existed. Apparently a new manager was also assigned to another small facility in a nearby town around the same time. Is this part of the same movement that is bringing police officers into towns where they have no community ties? Have others noticed this? Anyway, right around the time I was told I was “not essential” I was also told that if I ever did return, I would have to fill out a lot of paperwork and prove I had “the proper qualifications” to do what I have been doing for many years by informal agreement. It would have started a slippery slope where I would have ended up working for the system, when the reason people hire me in the first place is because I am able to provide flexibility that the system cannot.
During the “pandemic” some of the auxiliary workers who are not on the system’s payroll were allowed into the facility, while others including myself were not; I have heard no explanation that makes any sense as to what the rationale was.
In the middle of March when things were chaotic, there was a while when everyone visiting was made to wear a mask – but the staff were not. Again, I have no idea what the rationale might be. I used to get awful headaches, which I assumed were from the stressful situation, but now I think they were probably from the masks. Not to mention the fact that it’s really hard to communicate with dementia patients when you have a mask on, and more still when they are hard of hearing. I hear that now the staff are wearing masks, though things are better than in the spring when I heard they were also wearing gowns and goggles. This is in a facility that, as far as I know, never even had any suspected COVID cases! Nursing is hard work. You’re on your feet most of the day, lifting patients and running around. Just a mask makes that harder still. Imagine adding a gown and goggles, and you might as well be working in a sauna!
Residents in nursing homes really depend on activities programs to add some interest and normalcy to their lives. While that remains to some degree, around half of the programming depended on volunteers. Volunteers were the first to be made “non-essential.” Then family members were also banned. This has only just changed – I doubt for long. Imagine what it would be like for an old person cut off from their families, friends, activities, outings, really much of anything that makes life any fun, and then staff are overworked and stressed. It must have been awful for them.
I hear through the grapevine that the food is getting worse; it has already taken a few turns for the worse over the years from when they were using local produce (and no one needed laxatives, while now most of them do), to when they started bringing in frozen food from hundreds of miles away, to when they stopped allowing anyone to bring in extras for any of the residents.
I also hear two interesting things that are likely related: over a third of the staff in the region have retired or quit; staffing is a huge problem, NOT because of “COVID” but because they just don’t have enough people willing to work in the system. The other thing is that staff are not permitted to say anything against what the system they work for is doing. One person I have talked to did quietly tell me they agree with me that the whole thing is faked, and no way are they getting the vaccine or the microchip. (My use of pronouns is not following the Woke mentality, just preserving people’s privacy.) Will that mean even fewer people will be willing to work in nursing homes, care will deteriorate further, and that will be used eventually as an excuse for the “demise pill?” I have a nightmarish vision of nursing homes a few years from now, where care is done by robots “to keep Grandma safe.”
It’s hard to believe this is really happening, but it is. These are not numbers to crunch in some bureaucrat’s caseload, they are real people, good people, people who deserve the best care, but to the Henry Kissingers and Bill Gates of the world they are “useless eaters.” And tell me in whose world it’s not essential to hold the hand of a frightened dementia patient and console them, but it is essential to keep liquor stores open?
If I were running the system, here is what I would do about “COVID.” I’d redesign nursing homes for better ventilation and sunlight. I’d improve the diet, eliminating refined sugar in particular. I’d put in sun lamps in the winter, and hire enough staff to make sure they were used properly – they are supposed to be excellent for preventing sundowning in dementia patients anyway. I’d give everyone Vitamin D and other supplements in the winter. I’d hire extra staff to take residents outdoors more often. I’d put in another bathroom and bring in staff so residents could have baths more than once a week. I’d stop pressuring staff to get flu vaccines or to wear masks. I’d stop giving residents the flu vaccine unless they specifically requested it. I’d bring back all the volunteers and endeavour to create a lighter, happier atmosphere.
And I’d make sure everyone had their hands washed before meals. It may be hard to believe, but in years of observing, I have rarely seen staff do this.