At first glance, seniors’ haircuts might not rank particularly high on the list of potential concerns that could crop up at residential care facilities.
But for the elderly, being able to get a haircut, curl or colour is much more than just the physical act — it’s a social activity and on a certain level, physical and emotional therapy.
After all, it’s an event those living in care facilities look forward to like many others, like a painting class or a sing-along.
For many, it was also part of their lifestyle to go and see the hairstylist with regularity for a wash and style.
It’s a chance to engage in conversation with someone from the outside world, hear about their lives, local gossip or world affairs.
More importantly, it’s an opportunity to be touched and pampered by another in a caring way, something that happens far too seldom for many living in such environments.
The experience, which those of us in the working world take for granted, has been missing for three years from the lives of seniors at the 24-bed Jackson House, attached to the Ashcroft Health Centre. A requirement for stylists to carry liability insurance costing in the range of $500 to $700 put the opportunity to tend to the seniors out of reach for the regular barber and hairdresser.
So family members have started sneaking people in under the guise of being friends visiting who also happen to be handy with the scissors.
The ruse was the only option, given the extraordinary insurance costs, or to provide the service for free, which is unfair to the people giving up their time to do the work.
Ensuring the facility, which is run by Interior Health, is covered off should something go wrong is important, but there must be ways to work around the insurance requirement.
It seems citing the regulation was an easy way to not have to seek a creative solution. Is such care not a form of therapy, just like art or music?
Could part of the recreational events budget not be allocated to pay for a portion of the insurance to provide a “care and beauty” day on a regular basis? That would still leave a portion to be covered off by the barbers and stylists who are being paid for their services, but it would not be so onerous.
Those seniors shouldn’t have to wait years before being able to get a haircut in their home environment. Health care should be about people, not insurance.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.