British Columbia

Kamloops care home residents sign petition, demand easing of restrictions

After four months of lockdown, some residents of a Kamloops long-term care home have signed a petition, demanding that restrictions be lifted so they can venture outside.

Petition calls 4-month lockdown at The Hamlets 'cruel and unusual punishment'

Gordon Gore, a retired Kamloops science educator, has missed getting outdoors to do nature photography during the four months he has not been allowed to leave the Kamloops care facility where he lives. (TRU)

Gordon Gore longs for a return to the days when he could go out his door and head for the nearby golf course, where he'd steer his scooter around the dunes, taking nature photographs. 

After four months in lockdown at the Kamloops care facility where he lives, that freedom still feels far away for the 82-year-old former science educator. Gore said he's frustrated.

"I look out the window and I see all my neighbours walking to the store and doing their normal things," Gore told CBC Daybreak Kamloops' Doug Herbert. "Just because I live in a senior's residence, I can't do that."

Gore is among residents of The Hamlets who have signed a petition that calls for the lifting of restrictions at the facility.

It calls the prolonged lockdown conditions "cruel and unusual punishment" that, if continued, violate basic human rights.

Retired Kamloops science educator Gordon Gore's amateur photography includes this image of a Super Moon (undated). (Gordon Gore)

Last week Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the easing of restrictions for visits in long-term care homes and assisted living facilities across the province, allowing residents to have in-person visits for the first time since March.

Residents will be able to see one person at a time — a single, "designated" visitor — in a designated area. The visits will be booked in advance and can happen indoors, outdoors or, in some cases, in a single room.

Gore said the slow return has been frustrating to him and other residents at The Hamlets because of the near-absence of COVID-19 cases in the Interior Health region.

He said he doesn't believe he is at risk of contracting or spreading the virus if he leaves the care facility. 

"I don't go near people," he said. "I just go to the golf course in a golf cart by myself and take pictures, or I just go around the neighborhood in my scooter."

A meeting last week with officials about the facility's timeline for easing restrictions on visitors or outings delivered "essentially a lot of vague promises," Gore said. 

Obligation to protect residents

Bob Attfield, general manager for The Hamlets in Kamloops, said in an interview that a phased transition plan for the facility will start allowing family visitors within the next 10 days.

Over the following weeks, residents will gradually be allowed to venture back out into the community, he said.

Attfield sympathized with Gore's frustration.

"It has been a long time that …other residents haven't had access to the community," he said. 

However, he said, the institution's first obligation in a pandemic has been protecting the physical health of residents in its care.

With files from Daybreak Kamloops