There is no one size fits all solution for continuing care

Grace Snider Open letter to Health Minister Mike Nixon: Continuing care is a new topic of conversation at our dinner table as we have recently begun to investigate future care options for a loved one. It all feels a bit overwhelming. What are the long-te

COMMENTARY

by Grace Snider

Open letter to Health Minister Mike Nixon:

Continuing care is a new topic of conversation at our dinner table as we have recently begun to investigate future care options for a loved one. It all feels a bit overwhelming. What are the long-term care options in our community?

To get answers to our questions, some family members and I recently attended a free videoconference on long-term care. I walked in the door feeling hopeful and optimistic. The videoconference was called Reimagining Long-Term Residential Care: An International Study of Promising Practices.

Perfect. This is exactly what we needed. What are the “promising practices” for long-term care? What is working for the care of the most vulnerable people in our society? And where is this offered in our community?

I learned about a recent research project that was conducted by a group of 25 international, interdisciplinary researchers who spent seven years visiting long-term care residences in six countries. Here are some of their findings for “What Matters?” in long-term care:

First: location matters. A facility should be near a hospital, public transit and shopping centres. It should be integrated with other services, residences and generations.

Second: size matters. Larger facilities should be broken into smaller units, with easy connections among units, sight lines for staff, and way-finding for residents. Avoid long hallways. Allow wandering. Provide space for hairdressing and doctor visits. Include combined living/eating areas, fitness rooms, therapy pools and gardens.

Third: staff matter. They should be involved with the facility design. Staff should be given adequate space to get away, do their charts, change and meet. And the facility should be appropriately staffed to provide a continuity of care to residents.

Aside from location, size, and staff, the “matters” go on to other important details such as clothes/laundry, food/dining, cleaning, dying and debates. The researchers reiterated several times that they did not find a “one-size-fits-all” long-term care residence.

After the presentation there was a Q & A session, and that’s when I began to feel confused. There appears to be a serious disconnect between the findings of this current research and what is happening here in Whitehorse.

I raised the point that if location matters the most, why is there a plan to build a long-term care facility in Whistle Bend, a location which does not appear to meet most of the criteria for “location matters”? My loved one and many friends and family who would visit on a regular basis don’t drive or feel comfortable traveling independently on public transit, so visitor access would be limited, especially in winter. Our loved one would be unable to access services such as the bank, doctor’s office, pharmacy, stores, church, coffee shops, etc. It is also a long way from the hospital. “Isolated” is the word that comes to mind.

If size is another important criterion, I wonder why this facility will house 150 residents, with the possibility of adding 150 more, for a total of 300 residents under one roof? From my perspective this seems to be placing a large group of vulnerable people with a large group of staff.

Will our loved one be able to form meaningful relationships within this large group of people? The research project describes the ideal size of a home having about 100 residents divided into smaller units. I don’t see this.

My family did an online “fly through” of the Whistle Bend continuing care facility. It appears to be a very beautiful and impressive structure and it is very large. One person’s observation was, “It looks like a mall!” I thought it seemed very institutional. Maybe it was designed as a university campus dormitory? I cannot imagine my loved one feeling comfortable living in this space.

Have staff been consulted throughout the planning of and programming for this new facility?

A few years ago an elderly friend’s family began researching housing options for her and they were told, “Your mother will be dead before she gets into seniors’ housing in Whitehorse.” A year later she had a stroke. After the stroke she was no longer able to live independently in her apartment and was “living” in the Whitehorse General Hospital, which demonstrates the urgent need for various levels of long term care in our community. How unfortunate that her story isn’t that uncommon.

I think we all agree that there is a desperate need for more options for continuing care, and that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. I remain hopeful that you will take the time to consider and to put into place the “promising practices” from the current research (some of which I have outlined above) before proceeding further with the construction of a long-term care facility that does not appear to be able to meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable Yukoners.

Grace Snider lives in Whitehorse.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mobile vaccine team Team Balto practises vaccine clinic set-up and teardown at Vanier Catholic Secondary School. Mobile vaccine teams are heading out this week to the communities in order to begin Moderna vaccinations. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Mobile vaccine teams begin community vaccinations

“It’s an all-of-government approach”

The now empty lot at 410 Cook Street in Whitehorse on Jan. 19. As developers move forward with plans for a housing development that would feature 16 micro-units, they are asking city council for a zoning change that would reduce the number of required parking spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Developer asks for zoning change

Would reduce the number of required parking spaces

The Liard First Nation is preparing to enter negotiations for self-governance with the territorial and federal governments. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News file)
Liard First Nation preparing to enter self-governance negotiations with Yukon, federal governments

Chief Stephen Charlie seeking an agreement separate from “dead end” UFA

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Jan. 20, 2021

A Copper Ridge resident clears their driveway after a massive over night snowfall in Whitehorse on Nov. 2, 2020. Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the Whitehorse and Haines Junction areas for Jan. 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Winter storm warning for Haines Junction and Whitehorse

Environment Canada says the storm will develop Monday and last until Tuesday

Mayor Dan Curtis listens to a councillor on the phone during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on April 14, 2020. Curtis announced Jan. 14 that he intends to seek nomination to be the Yukon Liberal candidate for Whitehorse Centre in the 2021 territorial election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse mayor seeking nomination for territorial election

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis is preparing for a run in the upcoming… Continue reading

Gerard Redinger was charged under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> with failing to self-isolate and failing to transit through the Yukon in under 24 hours. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Man ticketed $1,150 at Wolf Creek campground for failing to self-isolate

Gerard Redinger signed a 24-hour transit declaration, ticketed 13 days later

Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tax changes sought for Whitehorse energy projects

Delegates call for separate property tax category for renewable energy projects

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Most Read