As National Nursing Week draws to a close, the BC Nurses’ Union is joining the growing call across our country for a review of long-term care systems after the tragedy that has unfolded due to COVID-19.
BCNU President Christine Sorensen says it’s critical long-term care nurses, who are specialized professionals in geriatric care and have been working through the pandemic on the frontlines, are included in the important discussion around what must happen to improve to the system.
“Lessons must be learned following the devasting outcomes we’ve seen play out in long-term care homes since the pandemic began,” says Sorensen. “We’ve seen the province take extraordinary measures over the last several weeks to mitigate the spread of the virus, but we’ve still seen a staggering loss of life and suffering. There has never been such an urgent need to look into the gaps that exist in the system.”
Infection control measures must remain a top priority and BCNU is alarmed by the growing number of long-term care nurses who find it difficult to acquire the appropriate personal protective equipment.
“It is not acceptable that these nurses, many who are managing the significant emotional toll of losing those residents they have cared for, are also having to worry about protecting themselves from the virus,” says Sorensen. “These nurses deserve to have a voice. It’s time to address the chronic underfunding, short staffing and heavy workloads that have impacted the eldercare sector and those who work within it for years.”
BCNU has been calling for all levels of government to address the erosion of health support services for seniors, long before COVID-19.
“Most facilities around BC have failed to meet provincial government guidelines and provide a daily average of 3.36 hours of direct care per resident,” says Sorensen. “Our population is aging, with projections that show one-in-four people will be over the age of 65 in 10 years. Acting now will not only save lives but improve conditions for long-term care nurses who are working on the front lines.”
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