Caregivers still banned from several Quebec long-term care homes

Despite weeks of promises from the Quebec government, many caregivers are still awaiting permission to reenter the provinces long-term care facilities.

Eight facilities in the province are still banning caregivers from entering, citing concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

Karen Squires' 90-year-old mother lives at one of those facilities, the Vigi Dollard-des-Ormeaux. However, Squires will finally be allowed to see her mom in person again on Monday. She said she has a plan for what she wants to do.

“Feed, hydrate, try to get her mind going, talk to her, sing to her like I always do,” she said.

Squires has seen her mom only once since the end of February. Since then, her mother has tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered but Squires still had to take a Red Cross training course and get tested for the virus. Her results came back negative on Saturday.

While the Quebec government said it would begin reintegrating caregivers in April, that promise was delayed in some of the province's hardest hit homes. According to the latest government data, 46 per cent of residents at the Vigi DDO have tested positive for COVID-19 and 33 people have died.

Caregiver advocate Melanie Perroux said there are still situations where residences that should be letting people in are refusing to do so.

“They don't want caregivers going inside, they are afraid that those inside will be contaminated,” she said. “There's no official way for caregivers to complain about the situation.”

Of Quebec's long-term care residents, 85 per cent are helped by a caregiver.

Mary Napoli is one of those caregivers who has been allowed back into a CHSLD. She said getting permission came as a relief.

“I felt like a little girl going to school for the first time. I was so nervous but I have to admit, seeing her and taking care of her and the protocols that were put into place was just so amazing,” she said.

It's a sensation Squires is looking forward to feeling.

“I'm expecting her to be good. I know she lost a lot of weight,” she said. “It's just mind blowing, all of this. I wake up every morning and I say 'This has to be a bad dream.'”

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