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Ontario scaled back comprehensive, annual inspections of nursing homes to only a handful last year

Posted: April 16, 2020

(April 15, 2020)

By: Katie Pedersen, Melissa Mancini, David Common, CBC News

Government says it did 2,800 inspections in 2019, but most were related to complaints or critical incidents








A CBC News investigation found that only nine long-term care homes in Ontario received a so-called resident quality inspection, or RQI, in 2019. RQIs are meant to be more proactive, comprehensive, unannounced inspections conducted annually rather than the reactive inspections that follow complaints or particular incidents. (Myriam Fimbry/Radio-Canada)

People with loved ones in long-term care homes in Ontario might assume those facilities are thoroughly inspected every year to ensure they are in compliance with safety standards and regulations as the Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care says they should be.

The province says on its website that each care home undergoes an annual inspection that includes interviews with residents, family members and staff “as well as direct observations of how care is being delivered.”

But CBC News has learned that last year, only nine out of 626 homes in Ontario actually received so-called resident quality inspections (RQIs).

“I think a lot of people would be really surprised to hear that.”









Lenore Padro, 49, holds up a photo of her mother Shoshana Padro, a resident at Cummer Lodge in Toronto. She’s worried after learning that Shoshana’s long-term care home hasn’t received a resident quality inspection in over a year. (CBC)

Cummer Lodge has not reported a COVID-19 outbreak, but 114 long-term care facilities in Ontario have, and across the country, almost half of the more than 975 COVID-19 related deaths have occurred in nursing homes.

The Ontario homes that have had multiple deaths from COVID-19 were not among the few that had resident quality inspections last year.

For example, Pinecrest in Bobcaygeon, where as of Tuesday, 29 residents had died, had its last RQI in June 2018. The same is true for Seven Oaks in Toronto, where 22 people have died of COVID-19.

Eatonville in Toronto, where 27 residents have died, and Anson Place in Hagersville, with 19 deaths, each last had an RQI in 2017.

Inspections triggered by critical incidents or complaints

In 2017, about 85 per cent of homes in the province received a full inspection. But since then, only 60 per cent of homes have had one.

The ministry told CBC News in a statement it started using a “risk-based inspection framework” in the fall of 2018 and began focusing primarily on critical incidents and high-risk homes.

“The framework prioritizes homes with complaints, critical incidents, histories of non-compliance and other risk factors and subjects those homes to closer monitoring. The vast majority of Ontario’s homes are considered to be low risk,” the statement said.

Inspections are not expected to ramp up any time soon. The COVID-19 crisis has diverted resources as the pandemic continues to spread in long-term care homes.

The ministry’s inspectors have been “redeployed,” the spokesperson said, to “use their skills and experience to best guide and support the long-term care system through the COVID-19 crisis.”

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