‘People have been crying’: Seniors protest confinement measures at R.D.P. home

‘People have been crying’: Seniors protest confinement measures at R.D.P. home


“We have way more behind us than in front of us in terms of years, and we’d like to spend them happy.”

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Before the pandemic, there were dance parties, card games and dart tournaments at the Lionel Bourdon retirement home.

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Now, seniors living in the Rivière-des-Prairies residence say they are fed up with confinement measures that are more strict than in private homes, despite the fact that most residents have been vaccinated with two doses since April.

They can’t gather in the residence, and when they see each other in the dining room, they’re separated by see-through plastic walls to avoid the spread of the virus.

“Most of us are deaf, so we have to shout,” said Suzanne Bisson, who pointed out to a reporter that she was celebrating her 73rd-and-a-half birthday on Friday. “We have way more behind us than in front of us in terms of years, and we’d like to spend them happy.”

Bisson, who has lived at the Lionel Bourdon home for nearly six years, helped organize a sit-in in front of the residence Friday afternoon. About a dozen of the roughly 100 residents brought their own chairs and sat facing busy Rodolphe-Forget Blvd., with buses, cars and trucks honking their horns occasionally to show support.

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They waved placards that read “No to masks in residence” and “When will there be respect for the elderly?” They also banged pots, pans and plastic containers and sang songs.

Estelle Laliberté, 78, said the confinement measures make no sense and prevent residents from getting together. Up to 10 people from different addresses can gather in private homes, but when seniors are in the residence, they must maintain a distance of two metres and wear a mask. That means they can’t socialize when they’re outside their rooms.

“We can’t meet together with more than 10 people and it has to be outside,” said Laliberté. “We want to be considered a bubble, and that way we won’t have to wear masks in the residence. We’ve had no cases of COVID since the virus broke out.”

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Laliberté, who has lived at the residence since it opened 15 years ago, said the measures are taking a toll on morale.

“People have been crying, people have stopped eating and taking their medication, so they go to the hospital dehydrated,” Laliberté said. “We’ve had people taken to hospital because of psychological distress.”

She said she tried to address questions to her local health authority, the CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, but they wouldn’t answer because she’s not a health-care worker.

Alpheda Petit, 90, said the only socializing she has been allowed to do is with her daughter, who lives nearby and comes to visit.

“It’s very difficult,” she said. “We want to be able to socialize.”

The director of the residence, Marie-Josée Gendron, said she also would like to see some measures relaxed in the 12 public residences she manages as part of the Office municipal d’habitation de Montréal.

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“They’re fed up; we’re fed up. We’re putting pressure, and so are they and we’re encouraging them,” Gendron said.

“They should loosen the measures. It’s a bit incoherent, because people are allowed to play cards together with 10 people in an apartment building, but not here. We’d like to see a little bit of coherence.”

Until she gets directives from the Health Ministry, Gendron said, she must apply the measures in place. She said residents have had a hard time during the pandemic and should be able to socialize.

“People come to live in a residence to be with people,” she said. “We’ve gotten creative with Zoom, but we’re missing that human warmth.”

jmagder@postmedia.com

twitter.com/jasonmagder

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