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Pandemic has hampered long-term care: Ontario Health Coalition

Posted: July 25, 2020

(July 24, 2020)

By: Francis Racine, Cornwall Standard-Freeholder

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic seems to have created worsening conditions in Ontario’s long-term care homes, according to a recent survey organized by the Ontario Health Coalition.

Survey results, unveiled on Wednesday, demonstrated a high number of long-term care staff members polled considered shortages felt in the facilities during the pandemic has led to some basic care needs for residents being unmet.

The Ontario Health Coalition represents more than 400 member organizations and a network of Local Health Coalitions and individual members.

A total of 150 surveys were collected by the coalition, stemming from more than 75 institutions throughout the province. Fifty-five per cent of the surveys were from staff working in for-profit homes, 25 per cent were from staff in non-profit homes and 20 per cent were from staff in public (municipal) homes. Three per cent did not provide an answer.

Twenty-three per cent of respondents were from staff members being employed in long-term care homes from Belleville to the Cornwall and SDG area.

When asked for comments on the situation, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s medical officer of health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis declined to do so, despite having previously confirmed to the Standard-Freeholder that long-term care homes were indeed struggling with staff shortages.

In June, several local long-term care home employees alleged being short-staffed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite long-term care home administrators denying such shortages.

In the OHC survey, 95 per cent of respondents identified feeling short-staffed, whereas 63 per cent said they felt staffing levels had gotten worse since the start of the pandemic. The survey spoke of residents missing baths or showers entirely due to shortages.

“In some cases, staff give bed baths instead of real baths or showers as there is not enough staff to use a hoist or there is no time to do full showering or baths,” it reads. “Since staffing is the worst on weekends, those residents with weekend scheduled baths are frequently missed. Staff report some residents are going weeks without bathing. Residents are supposed to get two baths per week.”

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