Seeking Solutions for Canadas Care Home Crisis

A military report highlighting deplorable conditions in care homes has left politicians searching for solutions. The Canadian Medical Association and Ontario Premier Doug Ford are both looking to the federal government to set guidelines and provide funds.

“We need the federal government at the table as a funding partner. Support us as we move forward. Help us fix this problem. We cant fix it alone, no province can fix it alone,” Ford told reporters on June 1.

Ford said whats needed is a standard operating procedure for the long-term care system across the country. “No matter if its in Quebec or Ontario or B.C., we need a system that everyone goes by,” he said.

Herb Emery, chair of economics at the University of New Brunswick, says poor policies in the care home sector have “allowed low-wage work with high patient-to-staff ratios to create basically a tinderbox of problems.”

“The long-term care sectors problems are not new. Its just now theyve been hit with a crisis that has [made things] worse,” Emery, who formerly taught health economics at the University of Calgary, said in an interview.

The Canadian Armed Forces were sent to five struggling care homes in Ontario to provide humanitarian relief and medical support due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 26, the Ontario government released a report by the military which documented grave problems with substandard care.

Reported problems include rooms with feces and cockroaches, residents poorly fed and unbathed for weeks, wounds and bleeding left untreated, expired medications administered, catheters shared between residents, the delayed changing of soiled diapers which led to “skin breakdown,” and fallen and wounded residents ignored.

Pandemic protocols were not being followed in the five facilities, which have seen at least 225 deaths due to COVID-19. Over 1,600 virus deaths have occurred at Ontario care homes—roughly three-quarters of the provincial total. Statistics are similar across Canada.

The Ontario government is investigating the incidents detailed in the report and plans to launch an independent commission in September to examine its long-term care system.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, while noting that seniors homes are under provincial jurisdiction, has said the government “stands ready to support the provinces” on the issue with “more resources, more money.”

“We will be there depending on what the provinces need, what their situation is, to make sure all seniors are protected,” he told reporters on May 29.

Meanwhile, five Ontario Liberal MPs whose ridings are home to some of the care facilities hit by COVID-19 have written to Trudeau and Health Minister Patty Hajdu urging them to call on the Ontario government to launch a full public inquiry into the failings of the provinces long-term care system and recommend solutions.

They also want Ottawa to work with the provinces to establish enforceable national standards for long-term care homes across the country.

During question period in the House on May 27, federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called for an end to for-profit private care homes, saying they “have been the site of some of the most deplorable conditions.”

Emery says that would be “a mistake,” however, because “the provinces have no capacity to build and operate them. And theres no reason other than ideological ground to get rid of a private operator, unless you failed to regulate correctly.”

Ultimately, Emery finds the discussion hard to take given that the problems in the long-term care Read More – Source