by Matt Del Vecchio
This is a question I have been getting a lot lately. The pandemic has many wondering if it makes sense to eventually move into a seniors residence. Families are reaching out to me expressing their concerns. There is fear, confusion and doubt. This will inevitably result in a trend towards wanting to stay at home longer.
However, when I dig deeper with my questioning, the real fear seems to be regarding long term care homes as opposed to seniors residences. In Quebec, the two primary categories of residences are Résidences Privée pour Aînés (RPA) and Centre d’Hébérgement pour Soins de Longue Durée (CHSLD). There are approximately 1800 RPA’s and just over 400 CHSLDs.
The pandemic has clearly demonstrated what we already knew – the state of our long term care homes (CHSLD) and the treatment of our elderly requires drastic improvement. If there is a silver lining, this dark and sad period will be a game changer. We should not just be talking about increasing wages to orderlies. We need to be talking about a complete overhaul of our system including increased staff to resident ratios, new designs of our long term care homes, stricter infection control protocols, management accountability and increased care levels to improve the health, well being and dignity of our elderly.
The bright light may be our RPAs, which we commonly refer to as senior residences or retirement homes. At the time of writing, there were 143,000 rental units in Quebec and there were less than 0.5% of residents with confirmed COVID-19 cases. Compare this to CHSLD’s where the number of cases exceed 50% provincially and approximately 75% in the Montreal region.
The short answer is to not move if you don’t have to. However, our population is aging and many of us will have no choice but to eventually transition from our existing environment. Families must deal mobility challenges, cognitive issues, loneliness, increased care requirements and ending the burden of home ownership.
There is a reason why Quebec is by far the leader in the country for those 75 and older living in a seniors residence (approximately 18% compared to less than 8% nationally). Culture, relatively lower costs compared to other provinces, more amenities, greater competition, security and our social nature have all been the driving force behind their popularity.
Will this be sustained? Only time will tell. Let’s hope this crisis becomes the vector to improve seniors homes and the treatment of our elderly so we can age in confidence knowing that we will be taken care of in our time of need.
Matt Del Vecchio is the owner of Lianas Services Senior Transition Support and host of “Life Unrehearsed” on CJAD800 Sundays at 4pm. firstname.lastname@example.org