January 25, 2021
NISICHAWAYASIHK PERSONAL CARE HOME
NCN has reviewed the media reports on January 25, 2021 with the heading “Licences of 3 Manitoba long-term care homes ‘under review’ over inspector concerns. The story ties our Personal Care Home (PCH) to other PCH’s in southern Manitoba where many people have become sick and have died.
Our PCH is not under review as indicated in the media earlier today. A licence was issued on December 31, 2020 for the current year. A Standards Review Report was prepared by the Province. Unfortunately, the media did not report on the many positive findings in the Report. For example:
- Our Kehtiyatis (Elders) all “expressed an overall satisfaction with the home” (page 3)
- They “indicated they felt safe and comfortable in the PCH” (page 4);
- They provided examples of things they enjoy and “felt there were enough things to do to avoid feeling bored”;
- They say they have enough to eat and drink but they would like more wild meat and fish (page 3) (basically through our country foods we do try to provide to them with these as much as possible although the former administrator was not very supportive in this regard so we expect this will improve with our recent new hirings who understand our Nehetho culture and language);
- All family members expressed overall satisfaction with the management of the home (page 5) – although we have had to ensure no visitors at various times during the pandemic there are Facebook postings so that family can see the different activities their family members are involved in;
- We have vacancies at this point as people are afraid from the media reports about dying in personal care homes and others are reluctant to go there because there are no visitors – my Deputy Chief and I just spent the last couple of nights visiting Elders in the community and have heard from them how important it is for Elders to have visitors.
It is important to note that in the 12 months the COVID-19 pandemic has been causing major stressors globally, we have not had a single case at our PCH. We had ONE active case in our community and it was quickly contained and there was NO community spread. My Council and I have worked very closely with our community health team, our emergency measures team, all of our staff and our external advisors to keep our community safe. It has been a challenge as we put in place lockdowns, curfews and more restrictions than the Province or imposed them earlier or for longer periods of time. Although our community is suffering pandemic fatigue so far we have been successful in our fight against COVID-19 even though it is all around us.
In terms of the three issues flagged by the Province in its Report, I firstly want to indicate that my Council and I and the PCH Board of Directors retained an outside Consultant to conduct an Organizational Assessment prior to the Provincial Review and it is ongoing. As a result. we have made some important staff changes starting at the top.
On the issue of staffing more generally, our PCH has been fighting wage disparity for 10 years. We are continually caught in a fight between the federal government and the province on this issue.
We are pleased to note the federal government recently indicated they would be increasing our funding. We find it very ironic that funding is now to be provided to deal with the hiring of additional staff and infection control at a time many, many other PCH’s throughout the Province are struggling with disease and deaths but we have raised funding concerns for over a decade with minimal response. Yet, we have had no COVID cases and have lost no-one. Interestingly too, the Provincial Report did not even indicate that NCN and our PCH had remained COVID free for 7 months at the time it was written.
Further there were inaccuracies and/or incomplete information in the Report. For example, our PCH was not without hot water but the hot water tanks were turned off, an action that may have been taken by a former disgruntled employee to make our operation look bad during the review. The matter was addressed by turning the tanks back on. In terms of longer-term maintenance, we recently hired a skilled local person to perform maintenance duties at the PCH.
Further, the Northern Regional Health Authority never offered to provide our PCH with staff or contacted us to provide assistance in providing such staff. Instead, we hired our own local, experienced staff and we applaud them for quickly resolving all issues and ensuring our licence was issued.
Lastly, I want to make a point about how Indigenous peoples are treated generally by the health care system. The recent issues noted in both BC and Quebec occur for our people on a daily basis. We face discrimination daily. My own daughter, a nurse practitioner, took our grandson to the hospital and the first questions she was asked were “who is your social worker”, and secondly, “is the baby’s father in the picture” as well as other questions that were discriminatory and highly inappropriate. There are many other examples of disrespect and discrimination that are suffered daily by our people, not just in the health care system but elsewhere.
For years, First Nations peoples have faced systemic racism even when we do positive things like building and running a PCH for our Elders. Instead of focussing on a few items that were addressed and resolved, the focus should be on the positives in the Report. Our community is a COVID free island so far in a province drowning in community transmission of COVID-19. We have had no deaths which is a major achievement given how many Manitobans have died in other personal care homes and in other communities. Our positive efforts should be applauded.
The TRC and MMIWG have both continued to remind us all about reconciliation. The Manitoba Legislature passed legislation about reconciliation so it is time for the media to focus on the positive and not always the negative about our First Nation communities. THAT IS WHAT RECONCILIATION IS ALL ABOUT.
Chief Marcel Moody