Heatwave in BC: Concerns raised about conditions in nursing homes during heatwave in BC
VANCOUVER – Before temperatures in British Columbia got sweltering in the recent heat wave, Derrick Andrews said he asked about cooling measures at his wife’s Vancouver care home, including the use a fan.
“I was told, ‘Well, you better go to Canadian Tire and get one,’” he said. “I thought they were facetious.”
He said his wife Sandra, 68, who has dementia, had been at the Windermere Care Center in Vancouver for about a month now.
“Eighth floor, no air conditioning,” he said. “The window opens four inches.”
Andrews said the only air conditioning is on the ground floor, where he understands residents are brought in during the day.
However, he also had concerns about the heat at night. During a visit this weekend, he asked his wife.
“I could tell something was wrong,” he said. “All she could say … during the 40 minutes was ‘hot, hot, hot.’ And I knew then that there was a very serious problem, because it was clear to me that ‘she was stressed. “
He said he had started asking questions of management and had asked staff to share the recorded room temperatures.
“I checked with management and was told 40 degrees is the cutoff point. Before that they will manage,” he said. “At night, throughout the weekend, I got calls at 10 p.m., and the temperatures recorded in the room, after extraordinary efforts on the part of (the staff) … were 36, 5. “
Andrews said he wanted some recognition of the situation and for management to be “responsible and accountable.”
“You wouldn’t leave your dog in a 40 degree room,” he said.
In an emailed statement, the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority said the ministry expects under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act that “the operator will take all necessary steps to ensure that the temperature of the room is safe and comfortable “.
The health authority said fans were also being sought and distributed to priority sites, including Windermere, which received them on Tuesday evening. They added that other cooling measures were also being taken, such as “hydration rounds, cooling down residents with showers and wet rags” and creating cooling zones in the building where there is water. The air conditioning.
“Staff are trained to identify residents most at risk for heat-related illnesses,” the health authority said. location.”
BC Care Providers Association CEO Terry Lake said long-term care home staff do the best they can with what they have.
“Maybe it’s time we have a ministry for the elderly, to really look at this vulnerable population,” he said. “Because in 10 years 25 percent of British Columbians will be over 65, and I’m not sure we’re prepared for that.”
Lake said there was also an opportunity to learn from this experience.
“We haven’t really learned much from the first wave of COVID-19 to the second wave of long-term care in terms of policy,” he said. “But we know it won’t be the last heat wave we have this summer. We’re not even in July yet. So what are we going to do to make sure we don’t have the same impact next? once we have a heat wave. “
Andrews said while there were fans in his wife’s building now, “they’re blowing hot, hot air. That’s all they do.”
He added that while he can stand up for his wife, he questions others who might not have the same help.
“She asked me to defend her,” he said. “The others… I’m telling you, they’re alone.