Seniors use gymnastics equipment to improve their balance and flexibility, one of the programs developed to keep B.C.’s growing number of seniors active and independent. These programs have been suspended, and seniors’ activity centres closed due to COVID-19. (Delta Gymnastics Society)

Seniors use gymnastics equipment to improve their balance and flexibility, one of the programs developed to keep B.C.’s growing number of seniors active and independent. These programs have been suspended, and seniors’ activity centres closed due to COVID-19. (Delta Gymnastics Society)

COVID-19 adds to burden of caring for B.C. seniors at home

Day programs, activity centres can’t operate in pandemic

B.C.’s public health focus in the coronavirus pandemic is on residential care and assisted living facilities, where 20,000 staff care for the most at-risk population of seniors.

But by far the largest group of B.C. care providers is more than one million unpaid family members caring for relatives at home. And their activities, outings and respite care have been mostly taken away by isolation restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie says the province has fewer options for direct support, but it is reaching out virtually with a toll-free help line at 1-877-520-3267, and a new website, familycaregiversBC.ca to provide support. The province has provided an additional $500,000 to the Family Caregivers of B.C. to better connect people who are taking care of elderly relatives.

“I know the help you really need right now is some relief from your caregiving duties, and some time for yourself,” Mackenzie said April 26. “That’s incredibly challenging to provide for you right now. But you may find some comfort, if you can share your burden with those who understand it best. Please call Family Caregivers of BC directly, or connect through 2-1-1 and allow them to help.”

Since March, B.C.’s 2-1-1 line and its website bc211.ca have been connecting the thousands of volunteers offering meal and medicine deliveries or friendly virtual visits for seniors isolated in the pandemic. In the first four weeks, it has delivered more than 12,000 virtual visits, nearly 3,000 grocery deliveries and 2,800 meals.

RELATED: B.C.’s 2-1-1 hotline expands to link seniors, volunteers

RELATED: Respite care, adult day programs expanded in 2018

“There are over 5,500 British Columbians who have volunteered so far,” Mackenzie said. “It grows every day. I see selfless acts of kindness being extended to seniors in every neighbourhood of this province.”

Even self-sufficient seniors currently don’t have the option of visiting activity centres or libraries, where some were getting internet service.

Providing adequate, affordable home care has long been a struggle for the province, and the pandemic has aggravated that problem with the suspension of day programs. She urged people to use 2-1-1 or the new support line for advice and assistance.

“Others might receive respite from a care worker who comes into their home and allows the family member to get out, run errands, and be out and about in the community and get some relief,” Mackenzie said. “Now, with COVID-19, we’re finding that some families are cancelling some, or all, of their home respite in order to control the number of people that are coming into the home.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said home medical and care visits are being managed differently than senior care facilities, where visitors are strictly limited.

“There is guidance that we’ve provided for home support and for home care, nurses that go into the home to provide support as well,” Henry said in her daily briefing April 23. “It involves things like minimizing the people in the room.

“If you have to provide direct support, making sure that you have the appropriate tools to do it safely, making sure that you can clean your hands, that you can wear gloves, if necessary, and masks, if necessary. But also, recognizing that we don’t want you having contact with all the other family members that might be in the home.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirusSeniors

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

Just Posted

Hesco baskets were first used outside the Cache Creek fire hall in 2020 (pictured), and have once again been put in place as a pre-emptive measure to safeguard the hall against possible flooding. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Cache Creek taking pre-emptive measures to prevent flooding

Sand and sandbags will soon be available for all residents who need them

Clinton council has approved a request to allow limited youth sports activity at Reg Conn Park and Elliott Park. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Clinton council okays use of playing fields for youth sports

Clinton Minor Sports Association gets green light for use of Reg Conn and Elliott Parks

The proposed site of the new Loon lake fire hall, on the site of the former provincial park. (Photo credit: TNRD)
Construction of new Loon Lake fire hall delayed because of cost

Lowest tender more than double the estimated cost of the project

Gareth Smart in April 2019 during his first treatment for cancer; without his hair, but still sporting his goatee. (Photo credit: Submitted)
‘Losing my goatee made me feel like a cancer patient’

Longtime Cache Creek resident charts his experience dealing with cancer (twice)

Ashcroft Communities in Bloom’s plant swap is on now, outside 210 Brink Street in Ashcroft. Anyone with extra plants is encouraged to bring them down (suitably boxed/bagged and labelled) and leave them, and those looking for plants can come and browse and take what they want. A donation box is at the site. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Give it your best shot: village looking for great Ashcroft pics

Plus Cache Creek market opening, weight loss boot camp, sani-dump open, and more

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards accused

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Police road checks are coming for people travelling between regions while COVID-19 travel restrictions are in place. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. clarifies COVID-19 travel restrictions, Lower Mainland a single zone

Vehicle checks on highways, at ferry terminals to start Friday

Canadian driver Paul Tracy pulls out of the pits during the morning session at the Molson Indy in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, July 26, 2003 (CP/Richard Lam)
Vancouver is considering hosting a Formula E race using electric cars

The race would be part of a three-day event focused on climate and sustainability

Most Read