The past year has seen a great deal of saluting, thanking and publicly recognizing the frontline workers in the pandemic – and rightly so, of course. A steady diet of anything becomes routine, however, so it’s quite understandable that B.C. Seniors Care Provider Day came and went on Tuesday without attracting the level of attention it deserved.
An opportunity to recognize the more than 50,000 care aides, LPNs, RNs, frontline and administrative workers who provide care and comfort to seniors in the province, B.C. Seniors Care Provider Day was first proclaimed in 2017 but took on much greater meaning this year, for obvious reasons.
To mark the day, the B.C. Care Providers Association released an 11-minute video featuring brief messages of gratitude from Dr. Bonnie Henry, Isobel Mackenzie, Adrian Dix, Shirley Bond and several union, health sector and media figures. Terry Lake, who helped establish the day when he was B.C.’s health minister and is now CEO of BCCPA, spoke of how COVID-19 had made care providers’ work “more important and incredibly more challenging than ever before.”
Separately, the B.C. Nurses’ Union issued a news release calling for the government to conduct a comprehensive review of the province’s long-term care system and do more to improve working conditions in those facilities.
In light of the number of COVID cases, outbreaks and deaths that have plagued care homes across the country during the past year, few would argue against the need to take bold action to remedy longstanding issues. The only correct solution to staffing shortages, difficulty in recruiting and employee burnout is to pay care providers a wage commensurate to the value of the work they perform.
The Sunshine Coast is so fortunate in that our three long-term care facilities have been untouched by COVID. That didn’t happen by accident or blind luck. It happened because the staff in those facilities adhered to the most exacting standards and took all the necessary precautions in their personal lives to ensure they did not bring the virus to work and transmit it to the most vulnerable people in their community. For that we owe them our deepest gratitude and respect.
To do their job in the best of times requires strength of character beyond most of us. To have endured the past year demanded a level of commitment that exceeds every normal expectation. We are absolutely humbled by the example of care they’ve set.