珠海桑拿网Staff in long-term care homes across Canada are struggling to isolate elderly residents with dementia during COVID-19 outbreaks, accelerating the deadly spread of the virus, experts say.
These vulnerable residents have a tendency to wander as well as a need for social connection and physical touch, leading them to enter other patients’ rooms or common areas where they could contract or transmit the virus, say doctors and advocates.
“It’s a significant problem in the time of COVID-19 and long-term care,” said Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge, a national seniors advocacy group.
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珠海桑拿论坛“It’s also quite inhumane to be locking people up in their rooms. Older people with dementia in long-term care are not prisoners,” she added. “The good news is there are some things we can do to help support infection prevention and control while at the same time not isolating seniors exclusively in their rooms.”
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The novel coronavirus has taken a lethal toll on Canadians living in long-term care homes. More than 3,000 of Ontario’s over 5,000 deaths have been in these facilities, as have more than 600 of British Columbia’s roughly 1,000 fatalities. Overall in Canada, residents of these homes account for 10 per cent of total cases and 72 per cent of deaths.
A woman whose grandmother died of COVID-19 in a Vancouver care home has raised the alarm about residents wandering during outbreaks. Parbs Bains said she was on a Zoom call with her sick grandmother when another resident entered the room and began hugging her and kissing her on the forehead, remaining for several minutes before a nurse arrived to usher her out.
The care home, Little Mountain Place, is the site of B.C.’s deadliest outbreak in such a facility, with 41 dead. But in all long-term care homes with outbreaks in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, keeping residents with cognitive impairments isolated has been a challenge, said chief medical health officer Dr. Patricia Daly.
Click to play video ‘Coronavirus: The Canadian doctors who are providing answers about COVID-19’
10:51 Coronavirus: The Canadian doctors who are providing answers about COVID-19
Coronavirus: The Canadian doctors who are providing answers about COVID-19
The health authority advises staff to monitor residents who wander but not to lock them in rooms or restrain them, Daly said.
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Tamblyn Watts said 80 per cent of residents of long-term care homes in the country have some form of cognitive impairment such as dementia. Keeping them in one room without social engagement, exercise or daily routines has a negative effect, she said.
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She said more staff, not necessarily with medical training but with dementia training, are needed to compassionately intervene when they see a resident wandering and redirect them to a safe area. Ideally, there would be a separate room where residents could walk to other than their own, Tamblyn Watts added.
“It does, however, mean that you need to have people on deck to be able to help with that,” she said.
Quebec announced last year it would hire 10,000 patient attendants to work in care homes and train them over last summer. B.C. and Ontario have also created new jobs in care homes for people without prior experience, but much more hiring needs to be done, Tamblyn Watts said.
She also said more infection control, cleaning, testing and now vaccines are needed, in order to prevent COVID-19 from getting inside care homes to begin with.
Dr. Roger Wong, clinical professor and vice dean in the University of British Columbia faculty of medicine, said people with dementia need a lot of hands-on care.