OPSEU/SEFPO always observes National Senior Safety Week, November 6-12, because it’s important to reiterate basic steps that seniors, their loved ones and caregivers can take to avoid accidents and promote healthy living.
The world has changed radically since we last marked this date and we think it’s important to go beyond safety tips and healthy living and talk about the biggest threat to seniors’ safety, the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is noteworthy about the pandemic is that seniors are dying in far greater numbers than younger people. Eighty per cent of deaths in Ontario were seniors. And it’s not just because of underlying health conditions, more common in seniors.
Last May, Ontarians were shocked to read the Canadian Armed Forces’ report on the state of long-term-care facilities. Troops observed staff not changing PPE for several hours while moving between numerous patient rooms, and they said equipment was seldom or never disinfected.
In addition to COVID-related issues, the military saw cockroaches, rotten food and a disregard for basic cleanliness. They observed patients with ulcers left for hours, even days, in soiled bedding.
OPSEU/SEFPO has been actively participating in Ontario’s Independent Commission into Long-Term Care to ensure residents’ best interests are protected, as well as those of our thousands of members who give so much of themselves to seniors in and outside of institutional care. We know the best way to protect seniors and staff is to return all long-term care to the public sector. Because when the profit motive rules, substandard care and subsistence employment conditions always result.
Within 25 years, a quarter of Ontarians will be seniors. We have to put in place a solid, non-profit system of long-term care to support those numbers without delay – so the army never needs to be called in again.
To all seniors, their families and their caregivers, we wish a very meaningful and instructive National Senior Safety Week.
OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas
OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida