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Some nursing home residents still waiting for first hug since March

Some nursing home residents still waiting for first hug since MarchIt's been three weeks since the government announced that nursing home residents could get hugs from loved ones, but Bonnie Aigner is still waiting. "Nothing has changed," said the Upper Coverdale resident. Despite the Aug. 28 announcement, physical contact still isn't allowed at her mother's Moncton nursing home. Sussex resident Greg Loosley was able to hug his wife on Sept. 3 — the first one since COVID-19 put long-term care facilities into lockdown. But he's still waiting to be able to take his wife of 52 years to his apartment for a meal and a change of scenery. Other homes, meanwhile, are encouraging hugs and off-site visits for the emotional well-being of residents. Loosley finds the discrepancies between home almost cruel. When the government announced that designated support people, known as DSPs, would be reintroduced and that off-site visits would be allowed "effective immediately," it left the implementation up to individual long-term care homes. When asked about discrepancies on Friday, Abigail McCarthy, a communications officer with the Department of Social Development, said each home was responsible for ensuring that public health guidelines were followed."As always, it will be up to each facility to develop their individual plan based on Public Health guidance to make sure that visits can be as safe as possible for residents and staff," said McCarthy, declining further comment. Aigner was told that her mother's nursing home didn't have enough staff to proceed with DSPs and off-site visits. The plan is to start next week, but Aigner isn't holding her breath. After all, she got her hopes up after the Aug. 28 announcement. "Yeah, I was real excited. I went, 'Oh, great, now I'll be able to go and see her and give her that quick little hug that she's looking for.' And so far, it's still the same."Aigner said her mother, Donna Alcox, doesn't understand why her daughter doesn't visit as often and won't touch her. "It is almost a form of elder abuse, denying them this and taking so long, dragging their feet. Like really, four weeks? Come on."Aigner said her mother's home is already screening people on the way in, and all visitors have to wear masks and wash or sanitize their hands on entry.Loosley said family members are willing to do whatever it takes to be able to hug their loved ones and take them out for a change of scenery after six months. "Absolutely," he said. "It would be worth it just to have her here." Loosley looks around at life returning to almost normal for everyone else — children back in school, planes flying in and out of the province, unrestricted travel in the Atlantic provinces — and he can't push his wife's wheelchair across the Kiwanis Nursing Home parking lot to his apartment for a coffee. Officials with the Kiwanis Nursing Home did not respond to CBC's request for an interview. Loosely said his wife now refers to the home as a "prison" — something she never did before. He worries about her mental health. The owner of a Salisbury nursing home understands the importance of off-site visits. "It's good for them to get out and resume normal life and visit with family," said Jason Wilson, who owns Silver Fox Estate."It's particularly good for their mental health. It can be depressing for them if they're boxed in from the outside world … It really boosts their spirits and it's healthier for them." That's why his facility resumed off-site visits just as soon as the government lifted restrictions on them. Wilson said it's not like family members would deliberately put the residents at risk."These people aren't coming in and bringing their loved ones to a rock concert. They're bringing them for a meal or a drive in the country or a coffee."He said his facility will continue to encourage a "common-sense approach" to off-site visits, "so we can continue to have these people living their best lives."Their time is limited here. We want them to make the best of it."Wilson said there are conditions on off-site visits, including that they have to be arranged in advance. Residents and family members are expected to follow public health protocols for COVID-19, and they have to let the facility know where they're going, in case contact tracing is ever required.RequirementsAs the province has pointed out, the exact approach and start dates are developed by individual long-term care homes. Some have capped DSPs at one per resident, others are allowing two. Some, like Silver Fox Estates, have adopted the minimum requirements possible to follow Public Health guidelines. Others have gone way beyond them.The guidelines for one of the province's largest chains of nursing homes, said community masks are not good enough for DSPs. They have to wear "medical masks." Nine slides of the 23-slide document for designated support people is dedicated to hand washing and includes these bullet points:  * Skin that is cracked or has cuts or abrasions is more difficult to keep clean. Cuts and abrasions can be a source of infection and a port of entry for micro-organisms. It is important to keep them covered to prevent infection. * Natural nails longer than 3-4 mm (1/4 inch) are difficult to clean. * Jewelry is hard to clean around and can harbour germs. Always remove hand and arm jewelry before performing hand hygiene.

September 19, 2001 - Gabrielle Grazes Newfoundland

September 19, 2001 - Gabrielle Grazes NewfoundlandHurricane Gabrielle flooded Newfoundland and was responsible for the cancellation of mail delivery.

Pilot project could make growing potatoes cheaper, more accessible in the North

Pilot project could make growing potatoes cheaper, more accessible in the NorthA pilot project that could improve food security in Canada's North got the green light Monday.Jackie Milne, president of the Northern Farm Training Institute in Hay River, received $50,000 in funding from the government of the Northwest Territories to work with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists to identify the best seeds to produce potatoes in the North.If the project is successful, it could dramatically reduce shipping costs and increase accessibility to the staple food across the North, said Helen Tai, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada who specializes in potato genetics.Tai contacted Milne after reading the story about an Alberta farmer who donated 25,000 tonnes of potatoes to the N.W.T., to see if she could help.Milne received the donation in June and, along with a group of volunteers, has been delivering the potatoes across the N.W.T."It struck me that that was a lot of work, to try to transport 50,000 pounds to Hay River and elsewhere," said Tai.The overwhelming majority of potatoes are grown by planting tubers — small chunks of the vegetable — into the ground. But distributing potatoes across the North is expensive and they have to be kept from freezing or rotting until the next growing season, which increases costs.Tai said if people used seeds, that could dramatically reduce shipping costs and increase the accessibility to the staple food."The true potato seed is 1/50,000th the weight of a tuber. So that 50,000 pounds of potatoes that were delivered to Hay River would only be one pound," she said.However, for a potato seed to be found viable in the North, Tai said they would have to find seeds that are resistant to cold, could grow in a short period of time and adapt to the North's long summer daylight hours."That will require a little bit of work," she said. Now that they've received funding, Milne is preparing plots on a five-acre piece of land so that she can plant different potato seeds, provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, next spring.In the meantime, she'll plant the potato seed varieties in pots inside a greenhouse in March or April and transplant them into the ground, likely in late May."And then we'll see which ones adapt and do better in our climate," said Milne.Tai said that if they find the right seed or seeds, it would make potato cultivation more accessible, less expensive and more disease-free. "And just to be able to distribute the seeds more easily would give people more access to the crop," said Tai."This is the beginning of something very, very positive," said Milne. "This could bring food security in isolated, remote places."

Ontario long-term-care homes could face brutal 2nd wave of COVID-19, doctor warns

Ontario long-term-care homes could face brutal 2nd wave of COVID-19, doctor warnsAs COVID-19 cases shoot up in Ontario, a geriatrician says the province is poised to repeat its first-wave mistakes in the long-term care sector. "We have the potential now to have a second wave that may eclipse the first," Dr. Nathan Stall, who works at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital, told CBC Toronto. The first few months of the pandemic saw the virus rip into vulnerable long-term care homes in Ontario, killing more than 1,500 residents by late May. Though outbreaks in homes quieted in the summer months, Stall says the case numbers he's been seeing this past month remind him of that terrifying period in the spring. "We're seeing the curve take off when it comes to resident cases … adding two, three homes a day," he said, explaining that as the novel coronavirus spreads more widely in the larger community, it inevitably makes its way into the long-term-care residences as well.  The latest numbers from the province show current outbreaks in 22 residences and 54 active cases among residents. "We seem to have forgotten about the sector yet again," said Stall. "We are seeing early warning signs now." Staffing issues persist, association says While some lessons from the first wave will carry over — including the importance of access to personal protective equipment and a better understanding of transmission — Stall says staffing ratios remain "woefully inadequate." Donna Duncan, the CEO of the Ontario Long-term Care Association, agrees. The association has been calling for work to begin on a "Wave 2 Action Plan" since late July, putting out a list of demands for the province, including continuing "staffing flexibility" and the hiring of "an army of Infection Prevention and Control Specialists." "We've got to make sure it never happens again," said Duncan in a CBC Ottawa interview this week, referring to the outbreaks in the spring. "We need to make sure we're prepared to put the same amount of energy and partnerships and resources." To address that in the first wave, personnel from other areas — including hospitals, the education sector and even the Canadian Armed Forces — were redeployed to the hardest hit homes to pitch in. This time around, "nursing homes in Ontario have been told that hospitals may not be available to assist them in the same way as the spring," said Stall, who tweeted out a letter from Long-term Care Deputy Minister Richard Steele warning that hospital resources would be "more scarce." Stall says the best way to address chronic understaffing is to accelerate the training of personal support workers and improve the conditions for current staff, including by offering full-time, stable jobs, career-growth prospects, and sick pay. "Homes are understaffed, a lot of the pandemic pay they received before has dried up, and funding is being spent in a lot of other places," he said. 'She won't survive' For the families and loved ones of long-term care residents, the prospect of a return to anything like what Ontario experienced in the spring is horrifying. Susan Mills, whose mother Barbara is a resident of The Grove in Arnprior, Ont., says she's afraid of what the fall could bring. "I've seen the decline of six months. I went down every day at the window, so I watched her decline," said Mills, who is her mother's caregiver and often visits to help her eat. "If there is another lockout, she won't survive. She has deteriorated considerably." Melissa Acheson's partner, Shawn Hill, contracted COVID-19 while living at Ottawa's West End Villa home. Forty-seven residents there have tested positive so far, according to the home's operator, Extendicare. 'It kind of got to this point where I felt like the virus is on its way out, things are reopening, kids are going back to school, everything is going to be okay," Acheson told CBC Ottawa. "But as soon as we let our guards down ... it's just back with a vengeance. So yeah, I would say it's pretty scary to think about."Province says it will apply lessons from 1st waveIn a response to CBC Toronto, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Long-term Care wrote that there will still be ways for hospitals and their staff to support the homes. Hospitals will share expertise on infection prevention and control, the statement reads, and health professionals from hospitals can be deployed to homes seeing "critical staffing shortages."The spokesperson also said that the province is committed to applying lessons learned in the first wave of the pandemic, and that testing of staff and symptomatic residents will continue. "To shore up our staffing supply, we have taken significant action to increase flexibility and funding, including issuing emergency orders, introducing amended regulations, and committing $243 million in emergency funding for staffing, supplies, and capacity."

Saturday 19th of September 2020 11:26:31

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