LTC, you and me

There is a downside to acronyms.

One of the larger word-play mistakes in political circles two decades ago was the merger of the Reform party and the Progressive Conservatives. In a bid to be all-inclusive they ended up with the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance and unwittingly opened the door to great howls of laughter. By adding “party” to the name it resulted in the acronym CCRAP – a lesson to other organizations to consider what happens when words and names come into play.

Since the beginning of the pandemic we have read dozens of articles and watched hours of programming dedicated to the subject of Long-term Care often referred to as ‘LTC’ in the short-form. The conversation points of many of those articles and stories were the challenges of keeping residents safe and the great struggles of staff to deliver adequate services to their charges. Horrible examples of neglect in other jurisdictions led to deaths and we are now just learning those cases were not entirely COVID related, but rather a blend of poor care and neglect. All of these things are manifestations of a system that is tragically underfunded and not in keeping with expectations of a modern society.

There are many aspects of the LTC equation finally seeing the light of day.

There is the debate about private, non-profit and government run facilities. Unionized and non-union workplaces factor into the conversation too.

A recent Auditor report suggests this crisis has been on-going for decades and despite Liberal, Conservative and NDP governments at the helm, no one has tackled the issue of long-term care effectively. The issue bobs along much like access to clean drinking water for Indigenous communities, an affordable housing strategy for the working poor and other unwieldy topics failed in good part by the systems used to manage same.

So…. what of LTC, you and me?

The issue has become more acutely personal in recent months and weeks. It is quite a system.

Decades ago, the likes of Eden House, Royal Terrace, Caressant Care and the old Terrace were places to see relatives, incapable of living at home. For a youngster, these were very warm places with strange sounds and smells where dutiful family visited with some regularity.

A few years later it became another drop-off on the Advertiser delivery route. Most weeks the same souls would be waiting at the door, eager to take a paper back to their room and share amongst friends. At that point in time the notion that this was actually their “home” settled in and how important it was to keep up a schedule that wouldn’t have them waiting long for their copy of the paper.

By the early 2000’s, LTC was a source of political interest as chair of the county’s seniors and social services committee tabling a report that the old Terrace was inadequate for the type of care we wanted to see in Wellington County. There was not a dissenting vote that day. As they say, the rest is history and the new Terrace is now referred to by many as the gold standard of senior care in this area.

In more recent times, interest in seniors care has become entirely personal, caring for an aging parent unable to now reside at home on the farm. It is heart-breaking, but it isn’t the first time, nor will it be that last that a child has to make the call on behalf of a loved one for professional care.

With that earned understanding of where we have been and what direction long term care is heading, a couple of conversations expressed to us about the wording in last week’s cartoon on page 11 were concerning. Within, LTC was defined as ‘Lacking True Compassion’ offered as a bold statement against upper-level government inaction on senior’s care. Unfortunately, a segment of the local LTC community thought that was positioned somehow towards them.

Acronyms and word-play can be folly on a good day, but, it does present a chance to note how blessed we are in Wellington to have local, talented, care.

As to you and me, when the day comes that care above and beyond what can be provided at home is required, we can only hope to reside in a facility that cares as much as locals do. From the nurses, to the personal support workers, cleaners, chefs and dieticians there is a team of people who care for our loved ones when we cannot. The demands of their already challenging careers have risen exponentially this past year. They are owed our respect and thanks for a task most of us would be incapable of performing.