What has covid-19 taught us about long term facilities:
Some numbers: Of the almost 5 million seniors age 65 an older in Canada, 7.1% live in care facilities—nursing homes, chronic care, or long-term care hospitals (4.5%), or residences for seniors (2.6%). There are about 400000 seniors in Canada long term facilities, representing about 1% of the Canadian population. At the same time about 80% of fatalities of covid-19 are from this segment of Canadian society. Even when we take into account that residents of long term facilities are older and more vulnerable than the rest of the population it seems that these facilities , the staff, the kind of care they provide is a decisive factor in the very high numbers of fatalities. There were warnings: Last fall, the National Institute on Aging warned long term care homes were plagued by conditions that increased the risk of spreading infections: people living in close quarters in residences faced with chronic shortages of staff, with little space or ability to enforce proper physical distancing measures, where poorly paid employees often work on a part-time basis at multiple facilities, increasing the risk.
Findings: Army was called to help in some long term facilities in Quebec and Ontario. They reported in some cases that seniors were left unattended, unwashed, not relieved. Another tragic issue was loneliness, being cut off from their families, dying in loneliness , abandoned by the society? Problems: Low wages, lack of protective gear for the staff and residents, workers not screened?, workers work in several nursing homes and spreading covid. Facilities were understaffed, residents were abandoned and left without support service. Difficulties to isolate sick residents.
Solutions: As COVID-19 exposed those vulnerabilities, Ottawa worked out national care guidelines for the pandemic with the provinces, most of which followed policy advice by Sinha’s group.
The national guidelines recommend restrictions on visitors and volunteers to only people essential for basic …… personal, medical or compassionate resident care; requirements that all staff or essential visitors wear masks……