“I’m doing the best I can,” says Alexandra Sevapsidis.
“I think whatever accomplished so far I’m doing a good job, but I can’t be everywhere all the time,” she says, “but I don’t know what else I can do. All I want is help.”
The Coronavirus pandemic has left no one, unscathed, and in Quebec it’s true, none more than our vulnerable populations including seniors – even more so those in long-term care.
It’s no wonder Sevapsidis fears for her mother, currently cared for at her Saint-Zotique home with all the financial resources she can muster, which is sadly not enough.
Her 92-year-old mom, Joanna Antoniadou, is legally blind, has suffered two strokes, is hard of hearing, has dysphagia making it impossible for her to chew, and is being cared for by whatever part-time caregivers Sevapsidis can find with her limited resources and what little she gets from the social services network.
“I can’t get a full-time caregiver or live-in help and the local health agency just wants me to put my mother in long-term care. They give $14.50 an hour for 35 hours of care per week, anything above that they can’t help, and want me to put her in a CHSLD.”
She says it’s near impossible to find qualified caregivers willing to work outside of the greater Montreal area during the pandemic, and if she could her income won’t allow it.
“I’ve been told point blank that some prefer cash, that it’s easier to stay home and collect the federal subsidy until this all returns to normal,” and social workers haven’t offered anything more than a two-year-old list of caregiver resources with no guidance or help in finding the right person. “Basically it’s “Here’s $72.50 a day, go figure it out.”
Sevapsidis has worked two and even three jobs until very recently, with the Covid crisis reducing her employment to one, mostly night shifts in information security, while financing as much care as she can for her mother through accumulating debt.
“It’s just her and me,” she says, lamenting the dearth of resources in the regions. While most Quebecers have been shocked at the results of years of neglecting long-term care centres, she says the lack of resources stymies efforts by those like her, struggling to keep the vulnerable out of the hot zones.
She’s already had horrific experiences, from a misdiagnosed stroke and bladder infection at a local hospital, to an abusive situation with a former caregiver pulled from a community resource.
Her friend Panagiotis Tzanakos has turned to the increasingly popular crowdfunding platform GoFundMe to help her, if she cannot get the resources she needs from the official network. “It’s not only seniors’ homes that have been neglected,” he says, “it’s seniors.”
GoFundMe has been used for everything from helping people find cures for what ails them and paying mortgages, to kickstarting ventures for the latest doodad and class trips.
Sevapsidis just wants help getting her mother bathed, fed and cared for.
“I never thought I would need help like this. I’m very proud, I work hard, keep to myself and pay all my debts. But I really don’t know what to do anymore. Social workers say other than helping place her in a home, that there’s little much they can do to help.”
Even working full-time, getting the minimal home care subsidy and paying whatever more she can afford, Sevapsidis is still facing a daily $100 shortfall. “I can’t give up all my employment to stay with her 24/7 even if I wanted too; I can’t afford to do that and even then I’ll still not be able to get her the care that she needs. I’m fighting to do the best I can to do right by my mother.”
That’s in the face of unrelenting pressure to put her into long-term care, which she feels flies in the face of most current thinking –the best care is that closest to home with proper support.
“My mother always said that when it came time, she wanted to die at home, where she could hear her birds, where we can spend a lot of time with her. How much time does she have left? I just want to give her a few more good years at home, that’s all. I just want my mother to be happy.”
To see more of Joanna’s story or to help out, visit