Amica White Rock residents Larry O’Brien and Julian Kirstiuk recently founded the federally incorporated Canadian Association for Retirement Home Residents. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Amica White Rock residents Larry O’Brien and Julian Kirstiuk recently founded the federally incorporated Canadian Association for Retirement Home Residents. (Aaron Hinks photo)

B.C. retirement home residents fight province’s visitor restrictions

Association launched to give Canada’s long-term care, senior home residents a voice

Two South Surrey seniors have launched a national association as a way to give a voice to long-term care home residents and people who live in retirement homes.

Amica White Rock residents Larry O’Brien and Julian Kirstiuk recently founded the federally incorporated Canadian Association for Retirement Home Residents (CARHR).

An association designed to represent long-term care home residents has been needed for years, O’Brien said. However, the trigger point for starting CARHR, he added, was the introduction of a restriction regarding visitors at B.C.’s retirement homes and long-term care facilities.

SEE ALSO: B.C. senior home survey to measure COVID-19 impacts

The current provincial guidelines restrict visits to one designated family member or friend.

O’Brien, who is the CEO of the new association, said the restriction should be adjusted to allow two people to visit at the same time. Allowing only one person, he said, is no different than being told to pick your favourite child.

“If you’ve got three children and 10 grandchildren, only one of those are ever allowed to visit you. That’s a horrible situation,” he said.

One of the first actions of the association was to write an open letter to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. While the letter commends her “exceptional efforts” to control COVID-19, it takes issue with her position on long-term care home visitors.

“There is one regulation you have endorsed that begs for your re-assessment. The imposition of the very cruel and inhumane order that separates families. You have separated families and forced those seniors living in retirement homes to endure a long period of extreme stress with their isolation,” O’Brien wrote.

“There can be little justification for restricting visiting at retirement homes to one designated visitor.”

Monday afternoon, after announcing six new deaths and 317 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, Dr. Henry said there are currently 13 long-term care homes where there are COVID-19 outbreaks.

Henry said she does not envision the province increasing restrictions on visitors, but acknowledged the challenges that come with loosening them.

“The difficulty we have with long-term care is that it’s not just our person that is in there, it’s everybody who’s at risk,” Dr. Henry said.

B.C. Minister of Health Adrian Dix said the most common concern his office receives relates to visitor restrictions at long-term care homes.

“We’ve taken a very methodical approach to dealing with it,” Dix said during the news briefing.

“It’s clear that we want, as a goal, to increase the number of visits but we have to put that into context. COVID-19 is obviously unbelievably harmful, potentially harmful, to people living in long-term care.”

The association, O’Brien said, is a vehicle for people to speak out if they’re otherwise afraid to do so.

“The people in these homes, especially the long-term care homes, they either don’t want to speak (or) they’re afraid to speak,” he said. “Most people, even in here, are reluctant to speak because they’re reluctant to offend the manager. Now, in our case, we have a really great manager, but I’m more about the long-term care where all of these people have died tragically.”

O’Brien described Amica as “top of the heap,” however, he said the degree of stress felt by himself and neighbours varies depending on individual circumstances and family relationships.

SEE ALSO: B.C. records 132 more COVID-19 cases, one in long-term care

“Yeah, people are stressed, there’s no doubt about it. But seniors don’t show their stress as much as younger people might. When you’re age 70, 80, 90, you’ve learned to deal with stress to some extent, at least you learn to hide it.”

O’Brien and Kirstiuk are hoping to recruit volunteer board members.

“That’s probably the most important issue we have right now,” he said.

The ultimate goal is to have the association run by children and grandchildren of residents living in long-term care or retirement homes. O’Brien envisions seniors sharing concerns with their family members, which would then be relayed to the association. Those concerns would then be brought to the proper authorities.

“That’s what has been totally missing. We’ve had no way to connect.”

To learn more about the association or to request to join, O’Brien can be contacted at ldobmob@gmail.com or 778-966-5261.



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusSeniorsSurreywhite rock

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Providence Health Care has teamed up with partners, including Island Health, to launch the first remote cochlear implant (CI) mapping program for adults in British Columbia. Duncan’s Alan Holt was one of the first to test it out. (Submitted)
Remote cochlear clinic offers shorter commute for patients like Duncan’s Alan Holt

Duncan man one of the first to test virtual mapping program

Larry Fiege, right, from Fiege’s Farm shows a rapt audience the old-fashioned way to tap a Bigleaf Maple during the Maple Syrup Festival at the BC Forest Discovery Centre Feb. 1 and 2, 2020. (Andrea Rondeau/Citizen)
Maple Syrup Festival in Duncan cancelled

The annual syrup festival is a popular event at the BC Forest Discovery Centre

The Lake Cowichan Legion received federal funding in December, 2020 to help the organization weather the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted)
Lake Cowichan Legion receives federal COVID-19 assistance funding

Can be used for expenses such as insurance, utilities, rent or mortgages, property taxes, and wages.

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Do you know someone who should not be driving?

We are currently living about 10 years longer than our ability to drive safely.

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Most Read