Ontario emergency order could put seniors in long-term care at risk

CARP is deeply concerned that a recent emergency order by the Government of Ontario in response to COVID-19 could place seniors in long-term care at serious risk.

Recent reports suggest that the order removes restrictions on hiring practices.  This opens the potential for unqualified staff who lack the expertise or credentials needed to work with seniors in long-term care, to cause further harm to one of our most vulnerable populations.

CARP has long advocated for the government to take action in providing better ratios of qualified staffing in long-term care, and worries that this measure, clearly intended to increase the service capacity of long-term care homes, could potentially do more harm than good.

“It shouldn’t take a pandemic to trigger action from government in addressing the shortage of qualified personal support workers in Ontario,” says Marissa Lennox, Chief Policy Officer at CARP. “Now is not the time to gamble with the welfare of vulnerable seniors in long-term care.”

CARP seeks clarification on why the emergency order also purportedly removes requirements for incident reporting in long term care—a change that CARP warns will further increase the risk to seniors who experience negligence or abuse. “These people are living in close contact with others and are at extremely high risk of fatal complications from contracting COVID-19,” Lennox warns. “We cannot afford to cut corners in their care, nor reduce transparency in reporting incidents that could mean the difference between life and death.  How will these measures protect both residents and care workers, and prevent a recurrence of the current situation at the nursing home in Bobcaygeon?”

We can’t afford another tragedy like the coronavirus outbreak at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, ON which has claimed the lives of 7 seniors and has infected 24 staff members to date.

CARP recognizes the need for an agile approach as COVID-19 information and best practices continue to evolve. However, our members and their families are looking for assurances from the Ontario government that:

  • residents will receive quality care from qualified providers
  • provisions and best practices at the highest level will be made to prevent the spread of communicable illness between residents and staff
  • resident safety and security will not be sacrificed or compromised