MPP Gretzky Pushing for Better Congregate Care

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The NDP MPP for Windsor West wants the provincial government to recognize that essential caregivers of people in congregate care homes are more than a visitor.

Lisa Gretzky has announced a new private member’s bill, the More Than A Visitor Act, that she says enshrines rights for people receiving care, to ensure continuous and safe access to their essential caregivers.

Gretzky says part of the problem has been a lack of consistency during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The guidance, and it is just guidance that the government has put out, is being interpreted by different homes across the province," she says. "So, some are saying you can come into the home and this is what needs to happen in order for those caregivers to get into the home and for residents to have access, some homes are still denying residents access to their caregivers, at all."

Gretzky highlights a situation she's been made aware of and believes there needs to be an individual approach to some situations.

"I had a mom whose son is 14 and is in a group home. He communicates through touch, he's non-verbal, he has no other way to communicate and so mom and dad has no communication with him at all for six months because having him try to communicate with them through a computer screen or through a window was not appropriate."

Gretzky believes the solution needs to be legislated to be effective.

"And it has to include the voices of the individuals in congregate care, their caregivers, their families, the experts in the field and frontline workers, in order to ensure that we are seeing consistent procedures across the province and importantly that the government is putting the funding and the resources into the congregate care settings to make sure that it happens safely." she says.

According to Gretzky, the bill also sets out the framework for a Caregiver Strategy going forward, which she says will bring together residents, caregivers, workers  and experts and advocacy groups with the goal of making policies related to the role of caregivers in Ontario.

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