Over the past 15 years the Toronto Star and other Ontario newspapers have written many stories about life in long-term care homes. Yes there are good stories to be told, but what we remember are those stories about neglect, abuse, urine-soaked sheets, loneliness or angry, aggressive incidents.
There is no-one among us that doesn’t abhor reading these awful stories and wonder how we are letting these incidents happen; regrettably it has taken the pandemic to bring the seriousness of the long-term care home situation to the forefront.
Most of the staff are trying their very best to deliver care according to what is expected of them. But is this the problem? “Is keeping our elderly clean, fed and safely tucked away” the best way to provide a quality of life?
In a recent article in the Toronto Star, we read stories about residents who live in LTC homes which have undergone transformative culture change. There is Inga who asks for a piece of toast, butters it and shares it with another resident. Or the Professor who is known for his crankiness, who starts to cry when hymns and wartime songs are played on the piano. And then all of a sudden, begins singing the words to these songs! Read more here from a recent article called Crisis of Care, The Toronto Star, February 7, 2021: The Fix: Part 2: Republished from 2018).
The good news is that where there is a willingness to change, lives are transformed. There is no excuse not to now. We know how much we have dreaded the traditional model of nursing care. We know, now, how much better a different model can be, and how joy, respect and community can actually be experienced by residents, families and staff. If the word “care” in our system of healthcare means anything, we need to get on with it.