Se­niors for­got­ten as re­stric­tions ease

Cape Breton Post - - PROVINCE - NI­COLE MUNRO nmunro@her­ald.ca @Ni­cole__Munro

HAL­I­FAX — All Terry and Stefanie Stanis­low have to do if they want to go shop­ping at the mall or grab a bite to eat at a res­tau­rant is grab a mask, get in the car and they're good to go.

But for the Stanis­low sis­ters to visit their 87-year-old fa­ther at Camp Hill Veter­ans' Memo­rial Hos­pi­tal in Hal­i­fax, it's not that sim­ple.

“We're out liv­ing our lives and ev­ery­thing is ex­pand­ing, ex­cept for our se­niors. They're be­ing kept in a box,” Terry Stanis­low said Tues­day.

Long-term care fa­cil­i­ties in Nova Sco­tia were granted lim­ited vis­i­tor ac­cess un­der strict pub­lic health pro­to­cols in mid-June.

At the time, all vis­its were to take place out­doors in a des­ig­nated area on the fa­cil­ity's prop­erty, only two vis­i­tors, who must be 16 years old or older, could at­tend at a time and vis­i­tors were to main­tain a phys­i­cal dis­tance of at least two me­tres from the res­i­dent.

On July 22, Nova Sco­tia's Health De­part­ment ex­panded vis­i­tor ac­cess at long-term care fa­cil­i­ties to al­low five peo­ple to visit a res­i­dent dur­ing the out­door visit, where brief phys­i­cal con­tact while masked can take place be­fore re­turn­ing to so­cial dis­tanc­ing pro­to­col.

Also, long-term care res­i­dents are granted an in­door vis­i­ta­tion with one per­son in a des­ig­nated room. Brief phys­i­cal con­tact while wear­ing a mask can also take place be­fore re­turn­ing to so­cial dis­tanc­ing pro­to­col.

But Stefanie Stanis­low said the re­stric­tions aren't enough, as her fa­ther's men­tal health con­tin­ues to de­cline.

“Once the pan­demic came, we all ad­hered to the re­stric­tions that were hap­pen­ing and were 100 per cent on board do­ing what we needed to do to keep things at bay,” she said. “But now we're five months in and my dad is suf­fer­ing. He's lonely and de­pressed.”

Stefanie Stanis­low said her 85-year-old mother's men­tal health is also de­te­ri­o­rat­ing, as she isn't able to visit her hus­band of 61 years more than once a week.

“My par­ents have a pretty prac­ti­cal view on life and death and they both have ex­pressed each one of them could die be­fore they get to spend qual­ity time to­gether again,” she said.

On Tues­day, Stefanie and Terry Stanis­low car­ried signs while walk­ing up and down the side­walk in front of Camp Hill, to call for more vis­i­tor ac­cess at long-term care fa­cil­i­ties.

Holly Crooks and her sis­ter walked with the Stanis­lows. Crooks said she felt the Stanis­lows, and many other fam­i­lies with loved ones in long-term care fa­cil­i­ties, pain.

“We're not see­ing any sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment as far as our mother is con­cerned,” Crooks said when asked if her 90-year-old mother, a res­i­dent at North­wood in Hal­i­fax, was do­ing bet­ter since SaltWire Net­work spoke to her at the be­gin­ning of July.

“We would like a pri­vate visit. This is our mother and we don't think we're ever go­ing to be able to have a pri­vate visit with her ever again,” Crooks said. “She's 90. There's not much time left.”

The Stanis­lows are hop­ing the gov­ern­ment will al­low each fa­cil­ity to de­velop site­spe­cific plans for vis­i­tor ac­cess.

“We want ev­ery­body to be safe, but we need to stop the one-size fits all ap­proach be­cause COVID is not go­ing away right away,” Terry Stanis­low said.

Nova Sco­tia Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Leader Tim Hous­ton, who stopped to talk with the Stanis­lows out­side Camp Hill, said the fam­i­lies are ask­ing “ques­tions that need to be looked at and an­swered.”

“The lack of in­vest­ment in our se­niors over the last seven, 10 years, it's re­ally come to light right here,” Hous­ton said.

“(The pan­demic) is go­ing to cause us all to re­think how we treat our se­niors and that'll be the good thing that comes out of this.”

SALTWIRE NET­WORK

Stefanie Stanis­low, out­side of Camp Hill Veter­ans' Memo­rial Hos­pi­tal in Hal­i­fax on Tues­day, says se­niors in long-term care fa­cil­i­ties are be­ing left be­hind as Nova Sco­tia con­tin­ues to ease its re­stric­tions.

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