No way for 98-year-old mother to get a bath after ‘inhumane’ cuts to home care visits, son says

By | April 17, 2020

Dennis Michayluk is upset his 98-year-old mother is being left during the COVID-19 pandemic without the most basic care for personal hygiene — a bath.

His mother, Olga, lives in an assisted living block operated by Manitoba Housing.

She currently gets a visit every day from a home care worker to put in her hearing aid. Up until this week, she was also getting a bath twice a week — every Tuesday and Thursday.

But Michayluk says Olga’s case co-ordinator told him Thursday was his mother’s last bath for now, with services being scaled back due the pandemic.

The co-ordinator suggested a worker would be willing to wipe his mom down with a facecloth. But that’s hardly a bath, he says.

“I was so upset. I think this is actually ludicrous. A 98-year-old woman, with the COVID-19 virus going around — I don’t want her not to be clean,” he said.

“She is a very independent soul and meticulous about cleanliness. But after she broke her hip a couple of years ago, she needs help getting in and out of the tub and washing herself.”

I am not asking for the moon. Just give her a bath.​​​​​– Dennis Michayluk

A number of home care clients in Winnipeg are getting fewer visits after the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority indefinitely cancelled some services it considers non-essential. 

Risk assessments were done to determine which clients needed a high level of care and those who needed less, the health authority says. Some of the services being cancelled include bathing, laundry and cleaning.

The decisions to adjust home care services for some clients are being made carefully, the health authority said in a statement to CBC News, taking into account other care options available to individuals and the needs of each client.

Work out plan with co-ordinators: WRHA 

Michayluk doesn’t know what those “other care options” are, but he argues giving his mother a bath is essential. Expecting family members to fill in the gap is ridiculous, he says.

“I don’t mind doing her laundry. But I am her 73-year-old son, and giving her a bath would be totally inappropriate. I have a sister, but she is in another province,” he said.

Michayluk says he has no one who can help his mom have a bath. She has a close friend who lives in a house nearby, but that person is in her 80s and has back pain.

Olga, he says, is prepared to try and wash her own back with a brush, but she is unable to wash the rest of her body.

The WRHA says anyone with concerns about their own care, or that of a loved one, can call their case co-ordinator to work out a plan that balances needs and the limits on home care services during the pandemic. 

The health authority said if that’s not satisfactory, its client relations can be reached at 204-926-7825.

Michayluk says his mother, who immigrated to Canada from Ukraine years ago and worked hard all her life, deserves better. He plans to contact the MLA for his mom’s constituency, Cindy Lamoureux.

“It’s inhumane. This is how seniors who have worked hard all these years are treated in their twilight years?” he said.

“As Canadians, can’t we give a 98-year-old woman a bath? I am not asking for the moon. Just give her a bath.”

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