Red Cross tapping laid-off workers to help in Winnipeg personal care homes

As more personal care homes call on the Canadian Red Cross for support, the organization says it’s seeking people who’ve been laid off because of the pandemic to help meet the need. 

Shawn Feely, the aid organization’s vice-president for Manitoba and Nunavut, says the Red Cross is currently supporting staff in a number of Winnipeg care homes where there are COVID-19 outbreaks, including Parkview Place, Maples Long Term Care Home, the Saul and Claribel Simkin Centre, Golden Links Lodge and St. Norbert Personal Care Home.

But more care homes are going through outbreaks and there aren’t enough workers to meet the demand, he says.

“We need people, plain and simple,” he told CBC Information Radio host Marcy Markusa.

There are between 50 and 60 Red Cross workers delivering meals, providing companionship to residents, and even helping them use technology so they can speak with family.

Although the Red Cross is also seeking volunteers, Feely says there are a number of paid positions in Manitoba personal care homes.

“We are tapping into some industries that have a high level of layoffs. So people in the restaurant and bar industry, if you’re interested in working, we have positions for you.”

Feely said it’s a challenge to find people willing to leave their homes and walk into an outbreak.

“It’s hard recruiting people at this point in time. Understandably, people are concerned to go in into these care homes, but we need people,” he said.

“We provide the training, we provide the health and safety support.”

Although Feely says the need for more workers isn’t yet dire, he wants to ensure people are screened and trained before the need becomes overwhelming and workers burn out.

“Our staff are extremely dedicated. They want to give more and more and more and more, but we really have to balance out the willingness to give more, and the realities that we face that people are human.”

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