Long Term Care Homes and Infection Control Requirements
This post was written by Andrea Girones:
May 1, 2020 In homes across the world where we care for the sick and elderly the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a terrible toll. One might be tempted to throw one’s arms up and say “how could this have been predicted?”
Well frankly it was very predictable. We have known since at least SARS that long term care facilities were vulnerable. In our province vast numbers of retirement and LTC homes have been outsourced to for-profit corporations whose goal is to make money by charging high fees and cutting costs to the bone. A recent Globe and Mail investigation revealed that most homes rely on workers who have no paid sick days, are encouraged to work in multiple homes and who have no safety net if they are sick or injured. Most of them are new Canadians and/or female.
Despite the fact that almost every year there are outbreaks of the flu, which can be deadly to the sick and elderly, these home have, apparently, no stored PPE for their workers. The home are also filled to the brim so that the sick cannot be isolated from the healthy. Not offering their staff full time, permanent positions, means many will come to work sick as they have no choice. Most workers need to work in at least 2 or 3 different homes thereby increasing the transmission vectors for all infectious diseases.
These homes should have been the BEST prepared, with trained staff, a supply of protective gear and stringent infection control protocols. Well, clearly not. The government has also failed to improve funding as the population grew and became more and more dependant on care for dementia and cognitive decline. As recently as 2019, the Ontario Association of Long Term Care was calling on the government for different staffing strategies to meet the ever increasing staff shortages in long term care.
As a society we will have to deal with this failure by our government, our private corporations and ourselves in short order. We will need to consider whether private corporations should be allowed to profit by taking shortcuts and gambling with the lives of our elderly.
What level of profit justifies this neglect? Were the Covid deaths preventable with due care and diligence? Did this profiteering lead to poor and possibly negligent care? While the Covid-19 virus is novel, the risk to our most vulnerable living in residential homes was not. It was fully predictable and preventable.
Whenever our courts re-open I suspect they will eventually be asked to deal with this. If you feel your loved one was the victim of long term care home neglect, call for a free consultation. Every life matters.
Call us at 1-866-701-5811 to speak to one of our lawyers.