A new documentary looks at what happened when COVID-19 tore through three Lower Mainland seniors homes during the worst phases of the pandemic, including at Tabor Home in Abbotsford.
The documentary, entitled Crisis in Care, follows the spread of COVID through care homes in B.C., with a particular focus on three of the worst outbreaks – Lynn Valley Care Centre on the North Shore, Langley Lodge, and Tabor Home.
The Oct. 30th release of the film, which has already won Best Canadian Documentary at the Toronto Independent Film Festival of CIFT, will be on the Apple and Google platforms online.
Director David Hurford and his crew spoke to people who were in charge at the care homes, as well as to front-line care providers, researchers, and seniors advocates.
“It was a story of heroism and sacrifice,” Hurford said.
One of the stories the film explores is the death of Warlito Valdez, the first care worker to die of COVID-19 in B.C.
He died at his Richmond home, 11 days into a 14-day quarantine after he caught the virus working at a home for adults with developmental disabilities.
The Tabor Home outbreak was among the worst in Canada, recording 156 cases (93 residents and 63 staff) and 26 deaths from November 2020 to January 2021.
Care homes were scrambling for scarce personal protection equipment (PPE) and the staffing shortages they had been trying to address for years were suddenly a major emergency.
The documentary is largely about honouring the staff who worked through the extraordinarily difficult situation.
Highlighting heroism and the systemic issues in seniors care was a big part of the documentary for director Hurford.
“One of the things that comes out of the interviews is that we have ageism in our society,” he said.
The rights of the elderly were put aside during much of the pandemic. The issues that caused so many problems during the pandemic had been raised many times before, he said.
“Why did we ignore the staffing crisis for a decade?” he said.
Hurford hopes the documentary is part of pushing for permanent, long-term fixes to the system of seniors care in Canada.
If the system goes back to the way it was before, “that would be a tragedy,” Hurford said.
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