The fire next time
The conventional wisdom holds that COVID-19 has caused all sorts of mayhem in the delivery of elder care. Not so, in Dr. Reichman’s view.
“I would suggest that the pandemic has not caused many of the problems we talk about, it’s actually revealed problems that have always been there under the surface. For example, many older people, even before COVID-19, were socially isolated, socially distant. They had difficulty connecting with their relatives, difficulty accessing transportation to get to the store to buy food and see their doctors, and to interact with other older people,” the psychiatrist said.
“I would say as well that the pandemic didn’t cause the problems we’ve seen in long-term congregate senior care. The pandemic revealed them. We’ve had facilities where older people were severely crowded together, which compromises their quality of life, even when there’s not a pandemic. We’ve had difficulty staffing these kinds of environments with people that are paid an honest wage for the very hard work that they do. In many of these settings they’re inadequately trained, not only in infection prevention and control but in all other aspects of care. And the pandemic has revealed that many of these organizations are not properly funded. The government doesn’t support them well enough across jurisdictions, and they can’t raise enough philanthropic funds to provide the kind of quality of life that residents demand,” Dr. Reichman continued.
Could the pandemic spur improved elder care? His hope is that health care professionals, politicians, and society at large will learn from the devastation left by the first surge of the pandemic and will lobby for the resources necessary for much-needed improvements in geriatric care.
“We need to be better prepared should there be not only a second wave of this pandemic, but for other pandemics to come,” Dr. Reichman concluded.
The speakers indicated they had no financial conflicts regarding their presentations.