Safeguards required to protect the vulnerable
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/11/2022 (194 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
November is Alzheimer Awareness Month— a time to raise awareness of a devastating disease that affects one in nine people over 65, and that ratio will likely increase with an aging population, according to the Alzheimer Society website (alzheimer.mb.ca).
Having a family member who suffers from dementia, I have concerns about the health-care system’s ability to handle the increasing numbers, and also about the procedures and resources that are made available to those already afflicted with this horrific illness.
My concerns begin with the process of assessing and panelling an individual for care, and continue through placement in care. There has been messaging aimed at educating families about how to navigate the system when dealing with an individual who may need to go into care. However, that messaging often conflicts with what actually happens.
For example, information written by a specialist in senior care and published in the Winnipeg Free Press, states that family should be involved in the decision-making about placement. What happens is a long-term care co-ordinator assesses and panels an individual for personal care, with input from a caregiver. A case co-ordinator, in conjunction with the caregiver, determines when the individual goes into care. That decision is based on information provided by a caregiver who is no longer willing or able to deal with a person who has dementia, for instance. There is no safeguard in place which offers family members the opportunity to become involved in either of these decision-making processes.
There also seems to be a disconnection between the process of approving placement in a care facility, and providing options for placement. A continuing-care expert tells the public — again through an article in the Winnipeg Free Press — the best place for a person is at home and home care will be provided (up to 55 hours a week). While the caregiver is aware of that option, information doesn’t reach family members who may be willing to assist with the care.
Another inconsistency is that, if a decision is made to take advantage of home-care resources, there is a shortage of workers and there are times when they don’t show up, for various reasons. So, even if a family has all the information, there is concern about relying on that option.
Undoubtedly better wages and a strategy to recruit more home-care workers as well as aides and nurses to care for patient once they are placed – particularly in dementia units where demands for care are high – will be part of the solution. Readers who agree might want to let the Minister of Health know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The first step, however, is that the health deparment must review the procedures for assessment and placement to ensure that decisions being made about care are consistent with the messaging going out; and that family has input into decisions being made by the caregiver and care co-ordinators.
Charleswood community correspondent
Donna Minkus is a community correspondent for Charleswood.