British Columbia

Canadian Red Cross to boost support for staff, residents at several B.C. long-term care homes

Teams from the Canadian Red Cross will be helping staff and residents at five long-term care facilities in the Lower Mainland starting this week. 

Around 100 people from Red Cross will help with meal delivery, socialization at five homes in Lower Mainland

A health-care worker is pictured in November with a senior at Tabor Home assisted living centre in Abbotsford, B.C. COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on the province's long-term care homes. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Teams from the Canadian Red Cross will be helping staff and residents at five long-term care facilities in the Lower Mainland starting this week. 

COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on the province's long-term care homes. Elderly residents make up the majority of deaths in the province since the pandemic began, and restrictions have meant many residents haven't seen family members in months.

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced Monday that the Red Cross would be arriving to help staff with tasks supporting quality of life in five facilities in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions, particularly those that have had or are currently facing outbreaks of COVID-19.

There are currently 24 outbreaks in long-term care facilities in B.C.

"Our teams are there to focus on the non-clinical needs of residents and really to lend a hand to the staff who have been working so hard throughout the pandemic to support their clients," said Pat Quealey, vice-president for the Canadian Red Cross in B.C. and Yukon.

"Just some of those human touches that just really focus on improving and supporting their quality of life."

Around 10 Red Cross team members will work in each facility, Quealey told CBC's On The Coast, helping out with things like meal delivery, light cleaning, and arranging and facilitating virtual meetings with family members. 

All are experienced in epidemic control and training, and have undergone "significant" training to ensure the safety of staff and residents, Quealey said. 

"This is very much a non-clinical role but our teams come in with a wealth of experience from many different operations both here in Canada and overseas that helps contribute to our understanding and to help those folks who are working so hard right now," he said. 

Last week, heath officials confirmed all residents and staff at long-term care facilities in B.C. have been offered a COVID-19 vaccine. However, not all residents have received both doses needed for full protection. 

Daily cases starting to decline

The latest figures from the province show the number of new cases reported each day is starting to decline, with 429 new cases and eight more deaths announced Tuesday.

The Red Cross's participation in long-term care is new in B.C. since the start of the pandemic, but Quealey said the Red Cross has had an ongoing relationship for years with the B.C. government and Ministry of Health.

The locations identified as needing the extra assistance were chosen by provincial health officials based on the greatest need, Quealey said.

The Red Cross also has relationships with other regional and First Nations health authorities in B.C. and is prepared to explore similar options with them if required, he added. 

"We don't constrain ourselves to any one specific geography," Quealey said.

"It's to help where the need is greatest."

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