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A sign asking for personal support workers to apply for jobs in Markham, Ont., on April 15, 2020.Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

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Seniors under lockdown

Re It’s Time To Let Families Visit Long-term Care Homes (June 6): André Picard’s piece captures a critical situation eloquently.

I am witness to the frustration of my wife and her siblings who are being prevented from visiting their 96-year-old mother, who is deteriorating under the effects of lockdown.

For almost three long months, my once bubbly, alert and witty mother-in-law has been subjected to what can only be described as solitary confinement incarceration. Now, heartrending, tearful, loneliness-induced depression cannot be soothed in absentia, even with dozens of daily family phone calls.

Because of many resignations at her home, remaining staff are terribly overworked, and quality of care has deteriorated markedly and been replaced by unnecessary sedation.

Treatment of the elderly under the current state of affairs is inhuman. This is a quality-of-life decision that must be addressed by those with responsibility. Allow families to augment the desperately overworked staff who simply cannot cope.

Chris Davis Toronto

It’s time to move from zero risk to mitigated risk. My mother-in-law has been locked down since March 15. At first, “window visits” were tolerated. Then the blinds were drawn and the residents couldn’t even see outside. Now, locked in their rooms day and night, conversations have become focused on “get me out of here” and with good reason.

The assisted-living home has a lovely yard. If we can paint circles in parks to keep physically distant, surely some of these practices can be put into place to enable families to safely visit with residents who are able. While the homes continue to focus on saving lives, there is no focus on mental health, although research shows that isolation is deadly. Visits must be allowed before the death toll climbs for other reasons.

Shellie Suter Toronto

Yes, family members need to re-enter long-term care facilities, but before they do, homes must be made safe. We expected Ontario Premier Doug Ford would heed the SARS Commission lessons and direct workplace safety and infection control experts to collaborate in implementing measures to protect workers so they wouldn’t get sick and unwittingly infect their patients.

Rather, for workplace safety advice, he relied on public-health officials who might better have stayed focused on their area of expertise, testing and tracing. Even as workers and residents became sick, he still didn’t seek out workplace safety experts, but instead summoned the military and hospital SWAT teams, made them follow public-health directions about workplace safety, and now dozens of them are sick.

Given that many homes have managed to keep COVID-19 out, and Hong Kong reportedly had no deaths throughout its long-term care system, it’s apparent that things can be done to control spread in long-term care. We can’t afford more wasted time. Families need to reunite with their loved ones. Make homes safe. Lives depend on it.

Nancy Johnson Co-chair Northeast Family Councils Network/Grand Family Council Greater Sudbury; Sudbury

While I appreciate the concerns expressed by André Picard regarding the isolation of seniors in locked down nursing homes, the problem lies not with restricting visitors but with the institutions themselves. Institutionalization of groups used to include orphanages, “insane” asylums, residential schools, facilities for physically and mentally disabled citizens, prisons and nursing homes. All have been reformed or eliminated except for prisons and nursing homes.

We must not throw more money into warehousing our seniors. Residential home-like facilities with single rooms, low staff-to-resident ratios with quality, educated staff and continuing recreational and rehabilitative programming are long overdue. Our seniors do not have the luxury of time to wait for change.

Lorie Grundy Edmonton

A path forward?

Re Can This First Nation’s Partnership With Police Offer A Path For Peace And Justice Elsewhere? (June 6): It was refreshing to read the article on the Tsawwassen First Nation and Delta, B.C., police partnership. It reminds us that creating a healthy relationship is not rocket science but common sense.

Attention needs to be paid to the internal culture of police organizations. Habits can only be changed if officers are given incentives for a healthier approach to policing: recognition, pay, training and promotion. The “rewards” inherent in the system on the ground tell an officer where the real priorities lie and shape behaviours.

Michael Clague Vancouver

Excellent article on the arrangement between the Tsawwassen Nation and the Delta Police Department. Hopefully it will be read by the RCMP leadership. But to get their attention, perhaps you should have headlined it as: “Tsawwassen Nation prefers to spend its own money on policing rather than accept RCMP services for free.”

Roger Tonge Calgary

Services, not police

Re If Not Now, When Will We Be Ready To Consider Defunding Some Police Forces? (June 6): The majority of calls for immediate assistance in our society do not require the intervention of people trained in the use of deadly force.

Fire half the police, hire the same number of social workers, and put one of each in every patrol car. It can’t possibly be worse than what we have now.

Loren Hicks Toronto

I am in full agreement with the letter by Maxanne Ezer in The Globe and Mail on June 8. It is far past the time to restore the valuable services that have been taken away by successive governments across Canada at all levels. Continuing to support the police means that nothing meaningful is done to prevent the crimes, only to catch the criminals after the fact.

The police end up undertaking work for which they are not trained and which has had disastrous consequences. It is much, much better for society that all levels of government provide community services and various help-providing programs that would prevent people from getting into trouble in the first place. We do need police to handle the people who are genuine criminals, but we certainly can do a lot more to prevent the crimes from happening in the first place, and it will be much, much cheaper.

Bruce Hutchison, C.Psych, Ottawa

Reform overdue

Re Indigenous Chief Says RCMP Beat Him Up (June 6): So, if I get into my vehicle at 2 a.m. and police stop me because my plate licence is expired, they have authority to arrest me? And if I protest and try to get the police to stop manhandling my wife, they have authority to beat me and charge me with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer?

We are long overdue for serious police reform in our country. Chief Allan Adam’s and my country.

Robert Chesterman New Westminster B.C.

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