Auditor General report on long-term care sparks doubt about action

“There was no plan,” LTC COVID-19 commission say Ontario was not prepared

The provincial long-term maintenance COVID-19 Commission submitted its final 322-page report to the provincial government on Friday night, highlighting the actions and actions that contributed to the catastrophic long-term care during COVID-19 epidemics.

The commission found her ministry had "no plan" to protect residents from the coronavirus pandemic that eventually killed almost 4,000 people in its care. "We need immediate meaningful change on a transformational scale that will really make a difference for resident care and quality of life, and the findings in this report must form a key part of the path forward".

Speaking ahead of the report's release on Friday, Premier Doug Ford said he wouldn't try to place the blame on previous governments. The report said that in late March 2020, when homes began to go into outbreak, the government had yet to formalize its response structure.

Almost 4,000 long-term care residents and 11 staff have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic hit.

"Many continue to be traumatized as a result of this experience and will require ongoing counselling and support", the report reads.

At the time, long-term care residents accounted for almost 1,400 of the state's 1,904 COVID-19 deaths.

Others said they would cry before and after shifts, vomit in lockers because of stress, and watch residents they loved die in great numbers.

Tara Barrows, whose grandmother died of COVID-19 in a long-term care home a year ago, said she appreciated seeing experiences like that of her family put on the record.

Proactive, comprehensive inspections: Another recommendation was that the Ministry of Long-Term Care conduct proactive, comprehensive, and annual inspections, and to respond to complaints and incidents reports in the required, legislated timelines.

But even after the commission was launched - and after it issued two interim recommendations - the virus continued to tear up facilities.

Medicine Hat tops 150 active COVID-19 cases
Ontario has the second highest, with 275 cases per 100,000 people. "Simply put, we're still heading in the wrong direction". But Hesse said he's glad to see an acknowledgment that some workplaces are more vulnerable than others to COVID-19 spread.

The commissioners said workers described making personal protective equipment out of "pop bottles and plastic bags" because regular masks were in such short supply.

The commission, headed by High Court Associate Chief Justice Frank Morocco, asked long-term care residents, staff and management.

It questioned government officials from Williams to Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton to Health Minister Christine Elliott.

She said numerous report's recommendations align with steps the government has already taken, asserting the situation in the province's long-term care facilities has improved in recent months.

Earlier Friday, Ford said he welcomed the commission's report, as hard as it would be to read. "But most of all, it can never be allowed to happen again".

Dr. Naheed Dosani, a palliative care physician and health justice activist in Toronto, said those numbers don't reflect "the enormous distress and grief" many caregivers and families across the province are feeling.

The head of the Ontario Long-Term Care Association, meanwhile, said the report is a step in the "journey to reimagine seniors' care".

"If you want to have adequate staffing in long-term care, if you want to have the necessary support for residents, you need to actually train the staff, and that's exactly what we're doing", Fullerton said.

"It is plain and obvious that Ontario must develop, implement, and sustain long-term solutions for taking care of its elderly and preparing for a future pandemic".

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