The devastation in seniors homes during COVID-19 was the predictable result of decades of indifference and neglect. From Victorian poorhouses to sites of mass death—the shameful history of our long-term care system.

Cathy Parkes never intended to put her father, Paul Parkes, in a long-term-care home.

When Cathy was a child, she couldn’t imagine that such a man would one-day find himself weakened, immobile, and confined to a tiny room. But in 2016, at age 82, Paul fell while gardening and was unable to get up. His wife found him an hour later keeled over by a flower bed in their Oshawa backyard. He was later diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a condition whereby fluid builds up beneath the skull, damaging the brain and causing mobility issues, memory loss, and urinary incontinence. Paul’s wife was experiencing cognitive decline and could offer only limited support. In 2018, Paul moved to Pickering, down the street from his daughter. For eighteen months, she was his primary caregiver. “Dad was losing his mobility,” Cathy says. “And I was hurting myself trying to lift him.” As his condition worsened, she forced herself to confront a painful fact: Paul needed more help than she could give.

Cathy knew that long-term-care facilities—or nursing homes, as they’re often called—have a bad reputation in Canada. In the 2000s, her grandmother had been abused and beaten in a nursing home. She also knew that there was nowhere else her dad could go.

Read more in The Local.

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