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‘Beyond belief’: Concerns grow as home care workers enter personal care homes

WINNIPEG — Home care workers are making house calls, while also helping ease the strain at personal care homes. Some worry the double duty could also mean double the risk.

“Stick to home care only,” 72-year-old Cindy Hamilton told CTV News Wednesday. She relies on those visits to help her 75-year-old husband who uses a wheelchair.

“Why they would start letting home care workers go into personal care homes and then back into the community is beyond belief.”

The province has banned personal care home workers from entering multiple sites to stop the spread of COVID-19.

But the union representing home care workers said last month the Manitoba Government asked home care workers to assist inside personal care homes to relieve staffing shortages.

“There are some concerns from people who work in home care who go to the door and family members or caretakers say, ‘if you’ve been to a personal care home, we don’t want you’,” said CUPE Local 204 President Debbie Boissonneault. “It goes both ways.”

Hamilton said she is happy with the care her husband receives and has cut down on visits to reduce contact. 

“The people who do come are ones we’ve had for a long time. And I trust them, but that’s not to say they’re not going to get sick.”

Both Hamilton and Boissoneault say the government was slow to respond. 

“We knew this second wave was coming,” said Boissonneault. “Had they prepared they wouldn’t have had to pull these home care workers into PCHs.”

Rather than shuffle staff, Hamilton said she would have like to see the army called in to help take the pressure off personal care homes. 

Hamilton would also like the province to track how many cases are connected to home care visits. 

In a statement to CTV News, a spokesperson for Shared Health said, “Manitoba takes several steps to mitigate the risk of exposure… Due to the relatively small sample size, Public Health does not collate data on home care staff working at multiple sites who have tested positive for the virus.”

Hamilton and her husband both have underlying health conditions which add to her worries. 

“If we were to get it, I know that we would not survive. I’m not ready to die.” 

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