’ACUTE STAFFING SHORTAGE’: Ontario’s LTC homes not ready for second wave, commission told
Article content continued
Deaths have occurred in only 16 per cent of the homes, she said, and half of all deaths occurred in just 23 homes across the province.
The association’s own analysis showed the deaths occurred largely in older homes with three- and four-bedroom wards and severe staff shortages that were located in COVID-19 hot spots — and they came before the province announced their action plan in mid-April.
“It was a bit of a perfect storm,” Duncan said. “And then there was no new staff to come in.”
The province’s action plan included redirecting personal protective equipment to the homes, mass testing, and, most importantly, staffing help from hospitals and the military.
But it took a while to get the protective equipment and when the province was finally able to provide it, some of it was expired, said Ruth McFarlane, the vice-chair of the board of directors.
Homes then had to sign a waiver releasing the province from any risk for providing the equipment.
“It became a trust exercise,” she said.
Duncan said other factors that contributed to the staffing problems included the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which discouraged some workers from returning to their jobs, and a directive from the province to have staff work at only one site.
“Clearly, hospitals were the favourite employer because their compensation was better,” she said.
Duncan said the government and the long-term care homes must act fast and work together as partners.