As an add-on to the CTV National News interview. Here are my thoughts on the long-term care crisis currently happening with Covid - 19.
Why has it taken a pandemic to bring wide attention to the issues in long-term care homes?
In my opinion, we are at a point where caregiver burnout is at a maximum and people are being pushed beyond their capacity to perform their very stressful jobs. There is definitely an increase in exhaustion, and frustration is also heightened. People are missing details that they may have seen before.
Due to the sheer amount of deaths in LTC, the entire industry is now under a much needed microscope. People who are not usually looking at, or working in, the industry have now been exposed to it, which is something that should have happened years ago. Usually, the industry is to be inspected by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care once a year. These inspections are booked ahead of time, giving the homes some notice. With military personnel being deployed to select LTC homes, the flaws in the system have now been witnessed first hand.
How long have these issues been going on for, and how have they been swept under the rug?
These issues are no surprise to professionals in the industry. Unfortunately, the Government Health Ministry’s turn over and it seems as though LTC always falls to the bottom of the pile. Continued cuts have also been an ongoing issue.
Additionally, many residents and families refrain from reporting subpar standards, neglect or abuse as they are fearful that there will be retaliation by the long-term care home, such as their family member being asked to leave.
This fearfulness extends past the LTC industry, in the retirement home industry we speak to clients frequently about zero tolerance and reporting. When you or your loved one moves into a home/facility you are dependent on the owners and caregivers.
What needs to be done to address the underlying issues in Long-Term Care - where should the focus be?
Invest in staffing
Less casual staff and more full time staff.
Less split shifts to cover off staff shortage.
Increase in pay to attract more qualified staff. In addition, higher pay could result in less staff turnover and the need to work at multiple LTC homes, just to make ends meet.
Invest in buildings
Additional buildings are required in order to reduce the immense waitlist.
Renovations on existing buildings, specifically to abolish quad rooms (rooms used to house 4 seniors).