Senior care homes, COVID-19: death and working conditions

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'Now it's Happening Again...' (and vid)

"During the first wave, Mr Ford promised an 'iron ring' around ltc homes. Instead he refused to spend the money to hire more PSWs to protect seniors, leaving thousands of families devastated. Now it's happening again and Mr Ford is gambling with people's lives."

And losing heavily.

[email protected]


- 109 COVID-19 LTC outbreaks in Ontario

-   700 residents infected

-  11 new deaths


Doris Grinspun, CEO of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) says the Ontario Ford government is not doing enough to stop the large number of deaths in long term care homes. 

The Ontario government is failing to prevent deaths of vulnerable people in long-term care homes and needs to tighten restrictions in red-control zones now, says the head of a group that represents registered nurses.

Doris Grinspun, CEO of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO), called on the government to lock down the province immediately in the wake of seven deaths at a long-term care home in Scarborough.

"I have never seen such disregard for the lives of residents and their staff in long-term care, and by extension, the lives of families left in anguish," Grinspun said on Sunday.

Sienna Senior Living reported on Saturday that seven residents at Rockcliffe Care Community have died since a COVID-19 outbreak was declared at the home on Nov. 2. More than half of the residents at the home have become infected with the novel coronavirus.

A total of 136 residents and 66 staff members have tested positive for the virus. One resident case has been marked as resolved. Nineteen staff members have been cleared to return to work. The home, which has 204 beds, currently has 165 residents. ...

Grinspun was particularly critical of Merrilee Fullerton, minister of long-term care, saying Fullerton "ought to have known" that COVID-19 would begin to kill vulnerable people in long-term care homes during its second wave given that restrictions are not strict enough. Fullerton used to be a practising doctor.  "For most people, this is unbelievable. We predicted this scenario. The minister ought to have known that things would be this bad or worse going forward," Grinspun said on Sunday. "No one in government — the public, yes, but in government, no — should be surprised. We will see more outbreaks. We will see more tragedy," she added. ...

Grinspun said the association called on the government on Friday to implement an immediate 28-day lockdown of red-control zones in Ontario, with the exception of essential services and schools. The association also asked the government to make investments in staffing of registered nurses, nurse practitioners, registered practical nurses and personal support workers in all homes across Ontario. And it wants the government to keep "essential care partners" in the homes and to prevent crowding in homes where a number of people share one room.

"We are not acting soon enough," she said. "It's all empty words." Grinspun said if young men were dying, instead of elderly people, there would be protests in the streets — "no one would do that to them" — and the failure to act is clearly discrimination against older people. "It is ageism of major catastrophic proportions," she said.


The Ontario NDP released a plan in October to move all long-term care facilities into the public sector following the disastrous performance of private sector LTC homes during Covid-19.

The Ontario New Democratic Party revealed an eight-year plan Friday to create a new long-term care system in the province — including transitioning all facilities to a public model, adding tens of thousands of new spaces for the elderly and eliminating the waiting list for long-term care if the party is elected in 2022. 

"The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a disaster hiding behind the walls of Ontario's long-term care homes," said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath in a news release. 

"We have to take action now to make sure people are safe in nursing homes and during home-care visits throughout the second wave," she said. 

The New Democrats released their plan one day after the office of the provincial Patient Ombudsman published a report that found complaints about long-term care homes increased over 370 per cent from March 1 to June 30 as the pandemic began sweeping through care facilities. As of Wednesday, the province was reporting that 1,952 residents in long-term care have died due to COVID-19, making up 65 per cent of COVID-19 deaths in Ontario. 

Cramped quarters and the neglect of residents, coupled with underpaid staff who sometimes worked at multiple homes were issues exacerbated by the pandemic and led to the death toll in long-term care facilities, experts told CBC News.   ...

The NDP says its plan will cost $750 million in capital investments per year over eight years starting in 2022 if the party comes to power, plus $3 billion in annual operating costs. It includes:

  • Overhauling home care to help people live at home longer.
  • Funding for more and better-paid full-time positions for personal support workers.
  • Funding for "culturally relevant care."
  • The creation of 50,000 new long-term care spaces for the elderly.
  • The eventual conversion of the long-term care sector to public ownership.

On Oct 1., the Ford government announced it would invest $461 million to temporarily raise hourly wages for close to 150,000 personal support workers.

But Horwath has been critical of Ford's decisions around long-term care throughout the pandemic, and the NDP's report claims Ford should have made changes more quickly to protect residents and staff working in the homes. ...

Horwath says an NDP government would build not-for-profit facilities that are "home-like" settings rather than "impersonal, institutional-like" care homes, and implement new standards to ensure new homes are built under the new model, while older homes are phased out. 

Along with those changes, Horwath says the NDP is "committed to creating full-time and well-paid jobs for personal support workers" to increase staff retention and make it a career more people consider.

Horwath is also committing to creating "culturally-responsive" care to make seniors feel "included" in homes regardless of background.


Another series of disasters in private sector long term care homes in Toronto: 

- Nearly half of all residents at a city-run long-term care home downtown have been infected with COVID-19 since a outbreak was declared at the facility last month.

The city has confirmed to CP24 that there have been 112 positive cases among residents at the 250-bed Fudger House since Oct. 2.

So far 74 of those residents have recovered from the virus and nine have died. The remaining 29 cases are still considered active. ...

The news of the dozens of positive cases at Fudger House comes as officials in Mississauga express concerns about another outbreak at a long-term care home in that facility.

There are now 90 positive cases among residents at the 151-bed Tyndall Nursing Home and another 65 among staff. “While our outbreak response team is working tirelessly with them to address infection control and outbreak interventions to bring this under control this is a dangerous sign,” Peel’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh said during a briefing, noting that it is the largest outbreak in any long-term care home in the region since the first wave of the pandemic.

There are currently 96 active outbreaks at Ontario long-term care homes.

The outbreak at Fudger House is among the biggest in Toronto but is not quite on the same scale as one at Rockcliffe Care Community in Scarborough, where 135 residents and 63 staff have tested positive.