Northern Ont. woman living with ALS says PSW shortage is causing her life to 'deteriorate'
A West Nipissing woman living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is speaking out about how the shortage of personal support workers is impacted her life.
Jenny Begin, who lives in Verner, said her life deteriorates when personal support workers (PSW) don’t show up to her home to assist with her care.
"I’m just a small voice and I’m sure in our community there are a lot of people going through the same thing," said Begin.
She has been living with ALS for eight years. Since starting home care, two PSWs would visit her for basic personal care on a consistent basis. One PSW arrives in the morning for an hour of care and another arrives in the afternoon for three hours of care.
"When you’re not capable of doing your own thing and you’re depending on everybody to help you through the day, it’s tough," said Begin.
Her sister, Cindy Brouillette, said a few weeks ago, on two of the five days Begin receives care, no PSWs showed up. The left Begin without a backup plan to help her eat and go to the bathroom.
"She can’t wait for her husband to come home or for me to come home after work," said Brouillette. "She’s totally dependent."
When no one showed up, Begin said her anxiety kicked in and severely impacted her current condition both physically and mentally.
Her main care provider is ParaMed Home Health Care Services.
In a statement issued to CTV News, the organization writes it’s not immune to the staffing shortage created by the COVID-19 pandemic and that it plans to address the situation as best as it can.
"We are working to address the staffing capacity challenges facing our teams as soon as is possible so that we can better ensure every client receives the care they expect, when they expect it," the company said.
"We are committed to upholding our responsibility to meeting the care needs of our patients and clients, while remaining vigilant against the virus."
ParaMed adds it is investing in training programs across the province in partnership with post-secondary schools to speed up workforce development for clients.
Begin said the situation is frustrating because she knows ParaMed is doing "everything they can" to get her adequate care.
"Recruiting people is hard to do when they are not being paid the proper wage that they should deserve," said Brouillette.
Begin has been a client of ParaMed for over four years. She says hasn’t faced this issue before the pandemic began. While at the same time advocating for more PSWs, the sisters want them to be paid more for what they do.
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