January 19th, 2021

Caregiving is harder than it appears

By Letter to the Editor on July 15, 2020.

Mr. Tarleck (re: letter to the editor, “Ways to improve long-term care,” June 30 Herald):

As a 17-year veteran of caregiving, trained in a long-term care facility, I came home in the evening after that training believing I had been run over by a Mack truck – this after coming from 10 years in a local industrial plant. Caregiving, if it’s anything, is illusory. It looks easy, but it’s damned hard work physically and emotionally.

Your letter, in my estimation, falls short, states no more than the obvious, and is restricted to the institutional symptoms, self-evident to those familiar with long-term care facilities. The experience and needs of caregivers on the floor are conspicuous by their absence. Equally, there is nothing in your letter to address follow-up to patient care assessments.

The great mantra of these caregiving institutions predates the pandemic. I would question the current belief that any caregiver is able to deal with any situation at any time. Ain’t so – it is an unrealistic expectation. To do more with less can’t be done, not safely. This is short-term economy. Ask yourself why there is a high burnout, sir. Would all this extra training make for a better dementia client relationship? Would pay increases make for a better caregiver? I think not.

Is management truly staff-orientated or are staff merely objects of production? The evidence speaks for itself. In this regard, you make no direct mention of staff team building. What? No money in the budget and anyway, who would pay for all the changes required É rollbacks, patients, taxpayers?

One lady, known widely for the quality of her patient care, stated a year ago that for caregivers within facilities it was analogous to standing on a railway line and hearing the train in the distance.

Gerald Morton


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Southern Albertan

With regard to dementia care, what would really benefit not only the folks with dementia but their caregivers, is locked, safe, secure units with adequate wandering loops and, pertinently, a higher staffing ratio to the number of patients, and, a more skilled staffing mix. This was going to happen at the St. Michael’s facility a number of years ago, but it was cancelled.
Again, this would take significant funding which does not seem to be a priority with Alberta right wing governments now, and in the past. And again, as a prominent Lethbridge doctor said at the time of the drastic Klein era health care cutbacks, “People need to decide what they want.”