Fire in Whitby, heroes in the workplace

We were very happy this morning to see some excellent reporting on the heroic efforts of staff and first responders who evacuated a long-term care home in Whitby on the morning of Monday, October 27. Because of their actions, nearly 200 residents were saved.

This is such good news compared to some of the other things we sometimes hear about long-term care homes. The long-term care sector is underfunded and does not have proper staffing ratios. That’s a clinical way to say something that many of us have seen with our own eyes: nursing homes are often sad places to be. We all wish our loved ones there could live better, especially now that they often have extra challenges such as dementia.

An emergency like this one could have ended so badly. What if it had happened in the middle of the night instead of in the morning where neighbours could help? It could have been like the horrific scenario at a nursing home in L’Isle Verte, Quebec, in winter 2013. That incident haunted us for weeks at SEIU Healthcare and that’s to say nothing of the individual members who know the sector so personally, who work day in and day out in stressful environments where their attention and care is in constant demand.

We need more long-term care staff throughout Ontario so that we have more happy outcomes like the one we saw after the Whitby fire earlier this week.

But for now, bravo to the amazing staff at Fairview Lodge and Whitby first-responder team! We are thinking about you and hope you are getting the support you need moving forward from this traumatic event with a happy ending.

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