Families forced to fill gaps in gov’t health care, seniors care

Families are having to take care of the most basic needs for their loved ones in hospitals and seniors care homes – filling gaps left by the government’s short-staffing.

The issue of families providing basic care for their loved ones in hospitals and seniors care homes was dominant this week at the legislature as NDP Leader Cam Broten brought yet another shocking case to light in an effort to cause the government to address the problem.

John Paul, 77 years old and in failing health, spends about eight hours every day at the Saskatoon Convalescent Home taking care of his wife’s basic needs. Paul said short-staffing at the seniors care home means seniors wait long periods for help to get to a bathroom, but when help doesn’t come they’re left for long periods of time in soiled underwear. He describes a resident who went 11 days without bathing; and an epidemic of falls caused by residents trying to get themselves to the bathroom.

“The Pauls’ story, sadly, is one I’m hearing all over the province,” said Broten. “I think of Carrie Klassen, who quit her job to fill in the gaps of the inadequate care her mom was getting in a Regina seniors care home. I think of Sylvia Phillips. Her family ran out of vacation days to be in the hospital with her in Saskatoon, so they had to pay $1,000 per week to hire private help just to ensure their mother was fed, helped to the bathroom and given the most basic level of care. I also think of Suzanne Stewart, a retired nurse who described staffing levels in the hospital so low neither basic nor emergency cleaning was getting done. Her family had to clean her room before she had surgery.”

Instead of strengthening health care and seniors care during the good economic times, the government changed the law to eliminate minimum standards for staffing and erase the minimum amount of direct-care time seniors in care receive each day in care homes.

“This government’s short-sighted cuts and changes are making things worse in hospitals and seniors care homes, and that has to stop,” said Broten. “Families are doing their part to care for and be there for their loved ones – they shouldn’t also have to do the government’s job, providing basic health-care services.”

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For more information, contact:
Erin Morrison, NDP caucus