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Column: Every Sudburian should read long-term care report

Posted: May 13, 2021

(May 12, 2021)

By: Dorothy (Dot) Klein, Timmins Daily Press

A family in a long-term care home.

A family in a long-term care home. PHOTO BY TONY CALDWELL /Postmedia Network

Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission Report was made public on April 30 and can be found on the Ontario Government website. I recommend that every Ontario taxpayer read this report to fully comprehend the drastic situation in our provincial health-care system. This has spin-off” consequences on every aspect every Ontarian and every Sudburian, regardless of age or involvement with health care or LTC.

The Honourable Frank Marrocco, chair of the commission, challenges “Ontario’s policymakers and leaders” to heed the recommendations (of the commission) and resolve to act on the recommendations and not “pass the buck” to the “next cycle or economic downturn”.

The purpose of the report is simple – to protect LTC residents and to notify the public that another pandemic should be expected. The COVID-19 pandemic was not the first nor the last.

Seventeen years ago (2003) there was SARS. People died. Health-care professionals caring for patients with SARS died. A Commissioner’s Report on SARS was done. Some recommendations were followed for a short time but then “gave way to the tyranny of the urgent”.

This lack of political will resulted in 11 staff and almost 4,000 residents in LTC facilities in Ontario to die in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic (2020- 2021).

Framed another way – 14,984 LTC residents and 6,740 staff were infected with COVID-19 in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020- March 2021, page 15).

Why?

Critical decisions came too late. The emergency response system was (and continues to be) inadequate to protect LTC staff and residents.

On page 24 and 25 of the LTC Commission Report, Marrocco describes the type of effective leaders that are needed in health care and in LTC. They must be empowered and supported to deliver excellent care. They need to build and establish public trust and drive cultural change to create respectful and inclusive work environments in which all team members are valued and where staff experience high levels of satisfaction and take pride in their work. These leaders are also referred to as “emotionally intelligent leaders”.

Sudbury has seven LTC facilities. The City of Greater Sudbury owns and operates the largest LTC facility in Northern Ontario. The Ontario LTC website describes Pioneer Manor as 433 beds, no short-stay beds, a family council, licensee the City of Greater Sudbury, home administrator Aaron Achibald with “overall responsibility for the day to day operations of the home”, last government inspection Jan. 22 2018, performance at 2017 level”.

In March 2021, Pioneer Manor announced the Ontario government awarded Pioneer Manor funds to establish 38 new beds and upgrade 122 beds to meet current LTC standards, bringing the total number of beds to 444 (part of Ontario’s LTC modernization plan for $ 933 million on 80 new LTC projects).

Pioneer Manor plans to build a new building with the provincial government funds – to house the 33 new beds and excess beds that have been in the upgraded area where shared spaces are no longer allowed (under IPAC). Construction plans are underway now.

I might add that in February 2021, I emailed Aaron Archibald to ask if Pioneer Manor had liaibility protection in the event of a complaint about exposure to COVID-19 while working, living or visiting in Pioneer Manor. Mr. Archibald referred me to another department within the city. The person there promised to get back to me as soon as the city’s budget was approved. I have sent this person emails but no further response.

Most insurance companies have added a statement that liability insurances no longer cover any costs related to complaints about exposure to COVID or other transmittable diseases.

The LTC COVID-19 Commission Report states: “To ensure needs and safety of residents are met, collaboration and mutual respect among the residents, their families, LTC providers, caregivers, government, staff and others are essential”.

The report recommends an entire change in the infrastructure of LTC facilities and a transformation to a person-centred model that motivates different behaviours and rewards innovation that leads to better outcomes for residents and staff.

It is not just about building more homes. The report recommends that the construction of infrastructure be paid by investors, but that the infrastructure for care be provided by mission-driven providers whose focus is care.

The province provides annual payments for an agreed-upon number of years. The developers recover their investment on an agreed-upon rate of return. The province owns the LTC facility and the land it is built on. This is the model in the hospital sector. This is recommended for the LTC sector as well.

The report recommends leadership development and crisis management training for all LTC administrators, directors of nursing and personal care and medical directors.

I have been a registered nurse for over 56 years and worked for over 14 years in long-term care facilities in the city. Leadership development and crisis management training is desperately needed in all LTC facilities in our region. If this does not happen, we will not have effective management of any of our LTC homes to come out of this pandemic and we will not be prepared for any crisis in the future.

We have excellent resources right here in Sudbury. Laurentian University has just released 110 professors who are available for new directions in their career paths.

The faculty of the Workplace and Labour Studies Program at Laurentian University taught their last classes on Friday, April 30. I know that most of them are available and willing to step up to the opportunities and challenges offered by the crisis in our local LTC facilities.

Long-term care facilities are part of the broader health care system and part of our community. Community grassroots leaders need to step up and make these experienced mission-driven persons with expertise “an offer”. We need them. They want to stay in this community. They call this home. Contact Reuben Roth, who has just lost his job at Laurentian University due to “restructuring”. He can help our community develop the leaders we need to protect our vulnerable citizens, their families and their caregivers as we march together with respect, compassion and kindness into the future.

We must also call for political support as we demand a change in the LTC infrastructure. We must change the power in the provincial legislature now Our current political party in the Ontario Legislature does not have a consistent plan to protect our vulnerable citizens. They have promised for over one year but failed to deliver any consistent plan. We will go into the fourth wave of this pandemic if we do not stand up and say “no”. Each wave has proved more deadly and involved more age groups.

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