The Independent Commission into Long-term Care in Ontario recently released its preliminary recommendations ahead of their full report due end of April, 2021.
The findings, which solidly underscore C.A.R.P.’s advocacy demands, were released out of urgency as the second wave of COVID-19 strengthens its foothold in long-term care homes across the province.
Key recommendations included:
- More staff with a better mix of complex care skills
- Ensuring that families and caregivers have ongoing, safe and managed access to longterm care residents
- Stronger collaboration between health care and long-term care (e.g. hospitals and public health units lending resources to struggling homes)
- Formalized and enhanced Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) Measures
- Residents who are COVID-positive, especially in older homes, should be given the option to transfer
to alternate settings to avoid further transmission of the virus and to help them recover
The report also warns that “further study of the study” (referring to July’s Ontario Long-term Care Staffing Study) is not needed—a sentiment that C.A.R.P. has been expressing for some time.
“Frustratingly, these early recommendations show that Ontario’s long-term care homes are in no better shape than they were at the outset of the pandemic,” says Bill VanGorder, C.A.R.P.’s Chief Policy Officer. “The government has had time to make short-term fixes ahead of the second wave, but clearly they have failed.” He goes on to clarify: “While it’s unrealistic to hope that the entire long-term system could be rebuilt in a matter of months, there were critical actions that could have been undertaken in the meantime, which C.A.R.P. has repeatedly and clearly outlined since the pandemic hit.”
The fact that the commission’s hearings are being held behind closed doors is also inherently problematic, as it obscures the transparency rightly-deserved by the public; many of whom have lost a loved one in a care home outbreak.
“This secrecy will only further undermine the public’s already low confidence in Ontario’s long-term care system,” notes VanGorder. “We’ve already seen the startling ugliness here. It’s time to come fully clean so we can move forward in rebuilding a functional system that can truly claim to provide care.”