The Truth: Warehousing Seniors in long-term care

GOLD SQUAD OP-ED: A thoughtful elder man sits alone in a dark room indicating the apathy and neglect of “warehousing” seniors, a dehumanising long-term care practice.

Seniors are people, not numbers – COVID merely overturned a long-term care boulder

Since the 2000s, policymakers view retirees as part of a developing crisis that threatens to unravel the economic fabric of our country. Instead of affordable, viable, or respectful solutions, quick fixes to cheapen long-term and senior care services took them into a nosedive.

And then came COVID.

The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the inevitable consequences of “warehousing” seniors. The first wave was appalling, as the looming long neglect of the elderly finally materialised in headlines across the nation:

What many in power knew about long-term care before COVID

Even these haunting numbers (“… in the first wave … 4,836 [deaths] were in seniors’ residences” Montreal Gazette) numb the population to the truth about warehousing our seniors. In fact, a cold, mathematical, and dehumanising praxis pervades the long-term care system.

Citing the Canadian military report on the COVID-19 outbreak in Toronto, CTV News writes

“Among the most startling claims are allegations of neglect, malnutrition and a suggestion that COVID-19 deaths at one home ‘paled in comparison’ to general deaths.”

How could you be worse than the first wave of COVID? 

The pandemic unveiled the poor standards of a cheapened senior care system. Shocking reports of facilities in disrepair and infested with fungus, mould, and cockroaches populated the media. Staff served rotting food, choked residents by rough feeding practices, and left them dehydrated, malnourished, howling for help for over two hours without a response, and with faeces and vomit-covered walls.

The state of facilities and staff behaviours did not appear overnight.

What really happens on the night rotation roster

This same cold methodology endorses understaffed night shifts at long-term care residences. Night rosters base themselves on available funding and care needs of residents. Abused “legal” staff-to-resident ratios serve to justify the low number of staff available throughout the night. Ultimately, understaffing strains resources, reduces service, and creates long wait times; often, requests for help are ignored until morning or simply forgotten.

Worse still, understaffing makes emergency and evacuation services dangerously limited. In 2014, Quebec Résidence du Havre burned to the ground, along with 32 people. The official coroner report cited the “lack of overnight staffing” contributed to the death toll. Translation: people died in their beds waiting for help.

Seniors lack a voice in these “homes,” but families have few options

Seniors lack options for living comfortably into their golden age. Either you rely on a child or spouse for care, which is taxing and can foster guilt in both parties, or chance entering the costly private and public long-term care systems. When a senior enters the care of a neglectful and apathetic system to be neatly filed into an apartment number, out of sight and out of mind, we call it “warehousing.” 

Far too long has senior care been about the numbers when it should always be about the people.

Stop Warehousing Seniors!

Compelled to break the status quo, Gold Squad upkeeps the gold standard of human decency that our seniors deserve. We provide customised, flexible in-home senior care services in the Greater Montreal Area.

Learn about the options available for yourself or an elderly loved one by calling 438-700-9107 or booking a consultation with Heather Parnell, founder and owner of Gold Squad.