Families navigate changes to Manitoba home care services

By | April 17, 2020

WINNIPEG — Manitoba families are navigating the potential suspension of some home care services in group settings, which could result in them providing certain services to loved ones instead of a professional.

While critical home care services are continuing, some less essential visits are being scaled back where possible to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Jean Morrison, 97, usually receives home care several times a day at the assisted living facility she resides in. She recently got a letter saying visits for services such as baths and laundry may be scaled back.

“And they would ask that the family please step up to help out with that,” said Morrison’s daughter, Bernice Sharp. “It’s hard to understand why home care would at this point, except for the pressure that they’re under I suppose, decide that random family members should now come in to an institution that we should be locking the door instead of unlocking the door.”

The privately-run facility Morrison lives in stopped allowing visitors in the building to protect staff and residents, but Morrison still gets to see Sharp outside in the parking lot. They visit from a distance, but soon Sharp could be the one playing a larger role in her mom’s care.

The possibility of that happening has left Morrison concerned.

“I think that would be very dangerous because there’s no way of determining where the person had come from and what the circumstances were at their particular environment,” said Morrison, in brief interview outside her home while visiting with Sharp.

So far none of Morrison’s services have been cancelled. If they are, Sharp said the assisted living facility would give her special access to the building to help out.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, which runs home care services in the city, said one of the reasons for scaling back some services in community settings is to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission through staff who may visit multiple clients in a single day.

The WRHA said there’s no blanket policy for which services may be cancelled. A spokesperson said decisions about what services may be temporarily cancelled are being made on a case-by-case basis and depend on each client’s individual circumstances.

“This will be done in collaboration with the clients and their families in order to ensure any adaptations to services will continue to support the health needs of clients and the safety of caregivers,” reads a statement provided the WRHA.

Shared Health’s chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa said changes may differ by health region and noted home care isn’t the only health service affected.

“We’ve done that with diagnostics, we’ve done with that with surgery,” said Siragusa, adding any change to home care would be an operational decision made based on the needs of clients and other supports available. “So it’s really just trying to conserve and preserve both our staff and our PPE (personal protective equipment) at this time.”

“It is most definitely meant to be temporary. It’s not a must-do, it’s a ‘what is the situation in an individual organization, like a region.’”

The head of the union which represents home care workers in Winnipeg said the changes have created some confusion. Debbie Boissonneault, Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 204 president, said home care workers have showed up to provide services that residents thought were being cancelled.

“I understand where the government wants to try stop some of the spread, but a home care worker coming in, a family member coming in — someone still has to come in and do these services,” said Boissonneault.

She noted home care workers have access to personal protective equipment whereas family members may not have masks or other gear to keep themselves and others safe.

That’s another reason Sharp is hoping she won’t have to step in.

“As soon as they say for sure my mother’s one of the people not getting a shower and not getting her laundry done, then I will have to go and do it,” said Sharp. “I have no personal equipment. I don’t have a mask, I mean I’m going to make something.”

The WRHA said case coordinators and nursing resource coordinators have been asked to review service plans based on the specific health needs of the client and the ability of family members to step in.

View original article here Source