Family Council Network Four (FCN-4) is the largest network in Ontario supporting families who have loved ones in Long Term Care. This network embraces 86 LTC homes and over 11,000 residents within Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand, Brant, including the city of Burlington and most of Norfolk county. Meetings are held three times a year in various locations to encourage attendance from all corners of our network. The focus is educational with informative guest speakers and provide a format for family councils to stay in touch and share unique ideas to improve the life of residents. With the pandemic stealing our opportunity to meet this spring, the Advocacy Team stepped up to introduce an electronic meeting platform. Almost 40 participants, representing 28 LTC homes joined the “Zoom” meeting on May 14 to share “Promising Practices During COVID-19.”
We were pleasantly surprised, that despite the frightening picture painted in the media, 70% of the participants indicated that there was transparency in the information shared by the home administration and that they generally trust the information received. They are in awe of the dedicated care shown by all staff members in an impossible environment. Many of the homes have hired recreational therapists or similar staff to focus on assisting the residents to stay in touch with their families. A variety of methods from electronic platforms to tried and true phone and window visits help bring the outside in.One home developed a tracking list to ensure that no resident was overlooked.
Of note, the inconsistency of communication with and about residents is one of the areas needing discussion going forward.Members responded to the need for change without delay, with the adoption of evidence based standards, a living wage funding that allow employees to work in only one home, consistency of care and universal access to LTC. The safety environment was one obvious area of concern with the scramble that some have faced to supply appropriate PPE equipment. The cry to revamp and reinitiate a supportive oversight program was clear, as was the need to design protocols to support infection control and combat the loneliness of isolation.
FCN4 will offer another Zoom meeting in the next three months as we watch for and advocate for changes driven by the Ministry of Long Term Care.