"No Plan" To Protect Residents: LTC Report

Marco Green
May 3, 2021

In the Auditor General's report, "COVID-19 Preparedness and Management: Special Report on Pandemic Readiness and Response in Long-Term Care", Lysyk points the finger at both the provincial government and the nursing-home sector for failing to heed lessons learned by the SARS epidemic.

The Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission released its final report Friday night, calling for more investments into staffing, more care for residents, and improved working conditions.

Friday's report to the Ontario government said the province's long-term care sector needs sweeping reforms to protect its vulnerable residents.

The commission paints a picture of years of neglect, followed by devastating choices by the Ford government to cancel inspections, deny staff paid sick days, leave facilites brutally understaffed, forego infection prevention and control, and allow the COVID-19 virus to spread quickly while the government acted slowly.

"The responsibility - it's kind of like running into a burning building, you're trying to save it, and you're doing your very best, but the fire had started well beyond the pandemic", said Minister of Long-term Care Merrilee Fullerton.

"I think we all have the same fear", she said.

Sufficient staffing levels and ratios: A key recommendation is for the Ministry of Long-Term Care to address root causes of staffing shortages. "How many reports do we need?".

Additionally, the Commission's call to promote and fund person-centred models of care, as well as increase care hours provided by allied health professionals above what is now being planned by the province, will go a long way to improve the quality of resident care.

"Staff were crying before, during and after work, vomiting in locker-rooms from stress and watching residents they love dying in great numbers", he said, summarizing some findings outlined in the report.

"Care should be the sole focus of the entities responsible for long-term care homes", it said.

Grinspun said she continues to hear "horror stories" from nurses who worked in long-term care homes during the worst stages of the pandemic.

She said numerous report's recommendations align with steps the government has already taken, asserting the situation in the province's long-term care facilities has improved in recent months.

But even after the commission was launched - and after it released two interim sets of recommendations - the virus continued to tear through the facilities.

The commissioners said workers described making personal protective equipment out of "pop bottles and plastic bags" because regular masks were in such short supply.

"Workers and families didn't need a study to tell them the standard hours of care were not enough", said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director.

"It is plain and obvious that Ontario must develop, implement, and sustain long-term solutions for taking care of its elderly and preparing for a future pandemic".

AdvantAge Ontario has been the trusted voice for senior care for 100 years and is the only provincial association representing the full spectrum of the senior care continuum. "Today's final report provides important independent insights into the tragedy that transpired in long-term care, and what needs to occur to ensure this never happens again".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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