On April 24, the government invited all free and healthy people to help out in CHSLDs. Now, one of the respondents has shared poignant testimony of her experience in one long term care facility, enlisting the help of Québec Solidaire deputy Catherine Dorion to broadcast her message. The testimony offers troubling insight into the state of the province's senior care network.
In the open letter posted to Facebook and read aloud in an Instagram post by the MNA, Quebec resident Amina Khilaji explains that she arrived for her first evening of service to find no attendants, despite Red Cross training that instructed her to only offer assistance to employees.
"I am the beneficiary attendant," she realized.
"I don't even have time to think, and I see myself shooting through seven full nights of care. Of underwear-changing and despair. I see people die.
"I have no formation in palliative care and, a few weeks ago, my job involved little more than banal social interactions in joyful offices."
"What the fuck am I doing here?"
"I'm not capable. I neither have the mental fortitude nor the qualifications to keep company to people on their way to die. I only thought I was doing my civic duty by responding to the demands of our governments. Empty the trash, clean the place up. Help."
Khilaji concludes the letter with a direct address to François Legault:
"Mr. Legault, Premier of Quebec, you who wondered where are all the qualified workforce was: many qualified employees abandoned ship because no one was listening to them."
"And you chase after them now, as though they owe you something, when neither your government nor those before you respected them enough to listen when they said they needed help, before they became so sick of it we'd end up where we are now."
"Powerlessness is a violence that shatters you to the core, and I don't hold out for any hope that that part of me can be completely fixed."
Catherine's Dorion's Instagram video, in which she reads excerpts of the letter, has been viewed over 350,000 times.
"More and more nurses, more and more health care workers, people who have volunteered [...] are writing testimonies like this that are going viral," Dorion says at the end of the video.
"I hope this is going to continue. This must continue."
"Every testimony that you make public participates in a transformation that we absolutely need in Quebec."
In the over 1,000 comments under the Facebook post and 400 under Dorion's video, residents are largely commending Khilaji's bravery and sharing their anger at the situation in long term care facilities.
Several comments indicate that, though exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, the situation is far from new.