Lack of air conditioning in seniors homes becoming a worry as province sees numerous heat waves

“Health and safety need to come first,” says Joyce Shanks, a family advocate whose parents live in the Maimonides Geriatric Centre about the need to better air quality in CHSLD’s. Brittany Henriques reports.

Heat waves and smog has been heavily affecting Quebecers in the past month.

Family members with parents in long term care homes and the Association Québécoise des Retraités des Secteurs Public et Parapublic are sounding the alarm – saying air conditioning and air purifiers are essential.

“I think there’s a major lack of care regarding ventilation, air quality, air circulation and again it goes back to funding,” said Joyce Shanks, a family advocate with Maimonides.

According to numbers obtained through an access to information request by the association – only 60 per cent of CHSLD’s have AC. This can be a problem they say.

“Of course there’s still around 36 per cent of CHSLD’s that are still not equipped with AC, and we consider that it’s important that it becomes 100 per cent in a horizon not too far away because with time heatwaves are going to become more frequent and difficult especially for the elderly living in CHSLD’s,” said Paul-René Roy, provincial president of the AQRP.

I have two parents personally at the same CHSLD’s Minodies and one of the MHAS an AC in his room and we installed an air purifier in his room during COVID so he’s pretty comfortable thankfully. The situation is not the same in every corridor in every part of the building,” said Shanks.

The data shows the CHSLD network received more than 4,800 requests this year to install air-conditioning in individual rooms.

It’s not clear how many of those requests were accepted.

According to statistics obtained, CHSLD’s seem to favor the air conditioning of common areas more than of individual rooms, but this affects those with reduced mobility.

“Senior citizens people with lower ability, mobility, they’re already the most vulnerable they dehydrate much quicker a slight change in hydration, alimentation, food it can just turn into a whole plethora of health issues and deteriorate their health and accelerate their death and I’m not trying to be dramatic but this is the case,” said Shanks.

“Some residents, families have installed air purifiers that they can remotely monitor from their phones are the air quality in the middle of the night was in the red zone, that means hazardous. That’s a problem and as far as we know there aren’t any protocols to protect the most vulnerable.”

Roy adding, “We saw throughout the pandemic the fact of having ventilation in a room the air gets renewed more frequently, and the particles that have been identified of being carriers of viruses whether it be COVID-19 or influenza, it also has an importance at that level.”

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