Thursday, November 28, 2019

Essential Service ...

When one is sick, two need help.

The Well Spouse Association

Hi Everyone,

It's been a stressful few days here in Vancouver. A labour dispute between transit workers and Coast Mountain Bus Company left many scrambling as they faced the possibility of a three day transit interruption. Amongst those most stressed but least acknowledged were family caregivers/carepartners and their care recipients - young, old and in-between.

Many family caregivers depend upon the support of homecare nurses and care aides to provide assistance in moving, bathing and feeding their loved ones plus the provision of medicines and treatments. They also need professional respite support so they can go to work, run errands, buy groceries and prescriptions, attend medical and treatment appointments and tend to self-care. When  professional helpers are unable to take transit to work or between clients, as 40 - 50% of them usually do, the stress on families they serve rises exponentially. (As if it were not high enough already.)

In looking through the online, television and newspaper articles about this incipient crisis, there were many more articles about the impact of the strike upon students and their final exams than about the needs of our most vulnerable. It makes one wonder just how cognizant the decision-makers were (on both sides of the table) regarding the risk they were imposing upon populations already at risk.

(And that is to say nothing of people with serious medical conditions who do not have family caregivers and depend entirely upon care provided by community health agencies, or who simply care for themselves. I have a friend who, while receiving treatment for breast cancer, travelled to and from her chemo appointments by bus because taxi fares were too expensive and she didn't own a car. How would she have managed during a three-day transit strike ...?)

It seems to me that people like these - family caregivers and those managing their own illness or disability - deserve to have basic transit declared an essential service so they are not subjected to additional strain and risk. We are constantly telling family carepartners and those with chronic conditions to take better care of themselves but, as a society, we owe it to them to at least make that possible. Caring for the caregivers and those with serious health conditions is the responsibility of us all.