Sunday, June 3, 2012


Seniors Scene

Health Budget 'Needs Larger Proportions' For Home Care

Macdonald gives VGH surgeon-in-chief some advice 

Submitted by Myrtle Macdonald,  M.Sc. Applied in Nursing, Research and the Social Sciences - McGill University


t was a shock yesterday to receive unsolicited from you a heavy letter full of greeting cards, promotional materials, etc. What a waste of money!


Where did you get my brother, Walter Schneider's name and address?


Why did you presume he would respond favorably to your long letter and many enclosures?


He is a disabled person living far below the poverty line. His meagre income has not risen for many years. The cost of living in the past year has risen 25%.


It is up to you to cut back on your own income and especially on the income of every administrator.


Instead, the number of people providing service has been cut back, while bonuses and raises are given to those at the top. A 10% bonus or increment on $200,000 is $20,000, but 10% on a caregiver income of $20,000 is a mere $2000, but the poor never receive a bonus or income increase, and many receive less than $10,000 per annum. The rich are getting richer and the poor extremely poor. Yes, some of the rich receive an income of millions per year and I can understand that $100,000 or $200,000 seems a lot less, but it is much more than enough really. Job satisfaction comes from service of high quality and not from money.


The idea that the number of people employed has increased is deceitful. Many work at minimum wage or part time, which means they earn less than minimum wage.


The idea that the number of homeless people is down is untrue. Many double up in extremely crowded substandard housing, or go home to live with elderly parents.


Stop allowing service people from working extra shifts at time and half, double time weekends and triple time on holidays, when people are ill or absent. Hire enough service people, paraprofessionals and professionals to cover all shifts.  It is false that there is a shortage of nurses and other professional people. Give them a job description that covers necessary back-up and planning/evaluation work during slack times, so that they will be fully rounded skilled workers, able to do high quality work both during emergencies and slack times. 


Cut back on the number of levels in the hierarchy of supervisors. They get out of date in their ivory towers. The only way they can remain current in their skills is to work in direct care in their profession frequently (weekly, monthly or seasonally).  Rotating Supervision by peers is far better than by bureaucrats. Hire fewer administrators and many more service providers/direct care professionals and paraprofessionals.


Correct the wide spread in salary scales. People at the top do not deserve high salaries. It is a myth that they are highly skilled. It is a myth that they face more risk and need more courage than those at the bottom of the salary scale.


I am going to be 91 years of age June 5, 2012. I have worked in 6 provinces in Canada and 4 countries overseas, and have lived in Chilliwack BC 23 years. I worked as a nurse until I was nearly 70 and I have been a volunteer and on advisory committees ever since. I am living below the poverty line because of a high mortgage and living expenses. My brother and sister are also having trouble paying for transportation, prescription glasses, will update, insurance, fitness classes, foot care, physiotherapy, day care, food, telephone, TV, dentist, medications, utilities, etc. We are never able to pay for a ticket to go to a drama or musical production at the Cultural Centre. Many young people are equally unable to make ends meet, and look to elders for help and -- there is none.


The health budget should provide a much larger proportion for Home Care. Hire more nurses and paraprofessionals. One hour a week for an elderly or disabled person is not enough. One bath a week is like the dark ages. You can hire about 5 Caregivers if you eliminate one supervisor.


I realize you are probably working long hours and trying hard. A new perspective is the answer.



Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice