Sask. NDP says province should provide clearer COVID-19 rules for seniors' homes, help residents make video calls
Published Tuesday, March 31, 2020 1:53PM CST Last Updated Tuesday, March 31, 2020 6:37PM CST
SASKATOON -- The leader of Saskatchewan's opposition party says clearer rules are needed when it comes to physical distancing at seniors' residences.
"We've had other provinces give clear direction that anyone over 70 should be self-isolating, we haven't heard that message loud and clear from this province," Ryan Meili said Tuesday during in a news conference live-streamed on YouTube.
A Prince Albert woman, who joined the news conference by phone, said the facility where her father lives is losing access to homecare because workers are being reassigned to acute care.
Wendy Fyrk fold reporters that family members are being asked either to come to the facility to help care for their loved ones or to bring them home.
"This is not a safe thing to do have individual family members walking into the facility, it's just going to create a really terrible situation for these seniors," Fyrk said
Meili said the province needs to offer clearer physical distancing guidance for seniors' homes and help the facilities add staff to provide the support required to enable physical distancing practices.
"We need to be protecting seniors, not exposing them and their fellow residents and not exposing them to people coming from outside," Meili said.
Also among Meili's recommendations are providing tablets to residents in seniors' and long-term care homes to help them stay connected with loved ones through video calls, an idea that he said is being tried out in Nova Scotia.
"People can feel really separated and really lonely and loneliness is hard on older folks at any time, especially at a time we're under more stress and there's a big crisis going on."
Facilities owned and operated by the Saskatchewan Health Authority and licensed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Social Services are required to follow public health orders, the province said in a statement.
The Ministry of Health said other residential options seniors may choose such as Assisted Living, independent living and seniors’ apartments must follow the same requirements that are in place for individuals living in their own homes.
These individuals should observe the need for social distancing: no more than 10 individuals gathering in a common space, the ministry said. Families visiting loved ones should minimize the number of family members visiting in order to reduce the potential for transmission.
With files from Francois Biber