Norma Wiechman doesn’t want to move into a nursing home. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

The 79-year-old has been following the news: COVID-19 spread in senior centers while residents were forced to isolate themselves and eat in their small rooms. Wiechman said she has friends who wish they had never moved to a nursing home.

“I wouldn’t want to go into one, but at some point I know I have to. Wiechman said from her home outside Winnipeg.

According to a study published Monday by the Angus Reid Institute, 73 percent of Manitobans want an overhaul or major changes to their long-term care facilities.

Nationally, 76 percent of people believe an overhaul or significant change should be made. Only 26 percent of 1,503 respondents in the survey believe such shifts will take place.

“They are trying their best to do as much as possible, but they can only take care of so many people,” she said.

According to the survey, three in five Manitobaners believe the federal government should be directly involved in setting standards for the industry. British Columbia, Ontario and Atlantic Canada join Manitoba. Three out of five people in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Quebec responded that the provinces should remain the decision makers for long-term care homes.

“What I am interpreting is that the people of Manitoba care less about who is in charge and more about making sure the improvements are made,” said Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute.

47 percent of respondents said they would do everything in their power to avoid going to a care home for themselves and / or their family members.

The strongest demands were more inspections and the enforcement of standards (43 percent), followed by an increase in the minimum number of staff on duty (39 percent). Also of concern were wage increases and recruiting, with 38 percent and 37 percent of people reporting a need, respectively.

According to CEO Jodi Hall, the Canadian Association for Long Term Care has campaigned for federal government involvement for years. She called the COVID-19 pandemic a “catalyst” to bring about change in the industry.

“These chronic, systemic problems are not new,” Hall said, adding that she wanted a shared responsibility between the federal, provincial and nursing home sectors.

“The labor shortage … is absolutely reaching this crisis point and it is crucial that we all work together on a common plan,” she said. “With demographic change in Canada, we know it’s time for another conversation.”

The Standards Council of Canada, the Canadian Standards Association, and the Health Standards Organization work together to create national standards for improving long-term care homes. According to the Health Standard Organization website, the group plans to release a public draft in late 2021 or early 2022.

Over 250,000 Canadians live in nursing homes. There are 125 licensed facilities in Manitoba that can accommodate up to 9,765 people.

“It can’t go fast enough. The focus really has to be on partnerships, development (and) collaboration if we are to really focus on how we want to experience aging in Canada, ”she said.

There are no plans for Manitoba to share responsibility for long-term care homes with the federal government, a provincial spokesman said.

“We want to reiterate the very clear message to the federal government that the most urgent need is to re-establish Ottawa’s role as a true, long-term health financing partner with a substantial increase in Canadian health transfer,” the spokesman said in a written statement .

People participated in the Angus Reid Institute survey from March 15-18. The poll has an error rate of 2.5 percentage points, 19 out of 20.

Gabrielle Piché is The Headliner’s community journalist.
Gabby is a young reporter from Red River College’s creative communications program. She studied journalism and spent the summer of 2020 as an intern at the Winnipeg Free Press.

Gabby also holds a B.A. in communications from the University of Winnipeg. She reported for Interlake newspapers in 2019, including the Selkirk Record, and received the Eric and Jack Wells Excellence in Journalism Award in 2020.

When she’s not chasing stories, listening to gabby podcasts, trying yoga, or petting someone’s dog

Email to [email protected]

The Angus Reid Institute survey asked respondents how the pandemic had affected their views on long-term care homes:

• 47% said they would do everything in their power to avoid them and their loved ones receiving long-term care. • 44% said they were afraid to think about themselves or a loved one living in long-term care • 22% said they would save more money to pay for personal care at home instead. • 18 percent said the pandemic didn’t make them think differently about nursing homes.

Additionally, 63 percent of 126 Manitoban respondents said more public money should be invested in home care. 37 percent said we can’t afford the amount it takes to make a difference.

53 percent of Manitobans said they would be willing to pay higher taxes (up to two percent more) to make improvements to fund long-term care homes.

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