According to numbers released less than 6 weeks ago, nearly 60% of the deaths (151) directly attributable to COVID-19 were seniors living in long term care and assisted living facilities. While no official numbers are currently in place, of the 543 official deaths attributed to the pandemic as of yesterday, it’s likely that there are now over 300 seniors, from care facilities, who have passed from the virus.
"These people are more than just statistics. They are loved ones who have spent their final months, weeks, and days in relative isolation. And their family members have been deprived of the opportunity to comfort and support them in their final hours,” observed Conservative BC leader Trevor Bolin.
A recent report* from the Office of the Seniors Advocate stated that, "... the goal was to ensure residents in long-term care and assisted living were kept safe ... eight months later, we need to ask the question: What are we keeping them safe for if it is not to enjoy the time they have left with the ones they love?”
“We understand,” Bolin continued, “that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine will begin rolling out next week, however, it will be many months before all of our elderly family members can be vaccinated.”
“Many seniors are losing the will to live because of the isolation that has been imposed upon them. In addition, with no opportunity to say goodbye to family members passing in long-term care and assisted living, this will undoubtedly have an extremely negative impact on the mental and emotional health of those left behind.”
A regular test is available that provides accurate results within 24 hours, and just in the past few days the travel industry has announced a plan to have vacationers tested with results also back in 24 hours.
“If it’s been successfully used to get BC’s film industry restarted, and get the airline industry off life support, should we not prioritize it’s use so that we can spend quality time with our family members who have spent far too many months in isolation, especially those nearing end of life?”
"Even with the just announced roll-out of a vaccine, this pandemic will continue to impact our seniors for many more months,” Bolin stated.
“That is why this morning we call on the provincial government to make it a priority to allow for British Columbians to once again be able to spend time with their loved ones, and to visit them in long -term care and assisted living facilities.”
“This needs to be done starting today,” Bolin concluded.
* Staying Apart to Stay Safe: The Impact of Visit Restrictions on Long-Term Care and Assisted Living Survey