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

Mark Chandler, outside of his extradition hearing at the Vancouver Supreme Court. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley condo builder’s fraud sentencing in U.S. delayed due to COVID-19

Mark Chandler’s own lawyer contracted COVID-19 in December

People have noticed pine siskins dying in the area, part of a trend of larger numbers of the finch flocking to the area about every five years. The larger numbers result in crowding and increased spread of salmonella. (Wikipedia photo)
Langley birdwatchers seeing dead finch species in higher numbers

Pine siskins are in the area in larger numbers. They are prone to salmonella which is fatal for them

Electric charging stations, like this one outside the new North Delta Centre for the Arts, might be seeing more commercial delivery vehicles using them soon, if a provincial rebate program takes off. (James Smith photo/Special to Black Press Media)
Restaurants to get big rebates for electric delivery vehicles

The project boosts the rebates for electric commercial and industrial vehicles in B.C.

The CubicFarm System moves rows of leafy greens through a system calibrated to grow the perfect crop. (cubicfarms.com)
Veritcal farm company based in Pitt Meadows, Langley raises millions

The company has raised more than $15 million from investors

Langley Thunder (Black Press Media files)
Langley Thunder trades for Maple Ridge’s Cody Malawsky

BC Junior A Lacrosse League draft was held remotely on Thursday, Jan. 14

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

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

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

The Delta Hospice Society operates the Harold & Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care (pictured) and the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner. (The Canadian Press photo)
Fraser Health to evict Delta Hospice Society, open new hospice beds next door

Health authority will serve DHS 30 days’ notice when service agreement expires Feb. 25

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Most Read