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Sweltering heat, lack of air conditioning putting seniors in B.C. care homes at risk

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Aug 16, 2020 at 3:11 pm PDT

FILE PHOTO. (iStock Photo)
Summary

Acting CEO of the BC Care Providers Association says certain care homes just aren’t equipped to deal with the heat

Care homes without air conditioning could put some seniors at risk

Klassen notes with a staffing shortage in the care sector, making sure everyone is staying cool can be challenging

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — As Sunday marks one of the hottest days of the year concerns are being raised about the risks of extreme heat for the most vulnerable in the province — including seniors in care homes.

Mike Klassen, the acting CEO of the BC Care Providers Association, says while about 80 per cent of care homes are equipped with air conditioning, dozens of older buildings are not.

“The Lower Mainland usually doesn’t get sweltering heat like we’re getting this weekend, so it is a real concern,” he says. “I know that the staff that are on the floor are all trying to do their very best to make sure that the residents are comfortable, but we also have to recognize that the staff themselves have been knocking themselves silly throughout the entire pandemic.”

While workers are providing fans and making sure seniors are hydrated, Klassen says the current staff shortage in the care sector is extremely challenging. 

“Unfortunately, as we’ve been repeating over and over again — we sometimes just don’t have enough staff to try and make sure that people are getting those services.”

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To overcome the shortage, Klassen says the BCCPA has been pushing for additional recruits and hiring for the sector.

“These things take time and frankly, we should have been doing this a lot longer ago,” he says. “The pandemic made it clear to all of us that we don’t have enough staff.”

Klassen adds a growing seniors population combined with the COVID-19 -related restriction of staff to single sites are adding to the challenges.

“As we go into the fall and a potential next wave of the pandemic, we’ve got to work really hard and start getting more people on board and working in care homes.”

According to Klassen, about 10,000 additional workers are needed in the care sector in order to ensure adequate staffing levels.  

– With files from Paul James