Friday, February 26, 2021

‘Heart-breaking’ military report ignites action at long-term care homes

The Ontario government is taking immediate action at high-risk long-term care homes, following the “disturbing allegations” outlined by the Canadian Armed Forces, Provincial officials say.

The Ministry of Long-Term Care has deployed long-term care inspection teams to conduct comprehensive, detailed inspections at high-risk long-term care homes over the next 21 days, Provincial officials said in a statement released on Wednesday, May 27, 2020.

At the same time, the Ministry of Long-Term Care has started the process of appointing temporary management at Eatonville Care Centre, Hawthorne Place Care Centre, Altamont Care Community, Orchard Villa, and Camilla Care Community.

Further, the recently announced independent commission into Ontario’s long-term care system will now begin its work in July 2020.

“Today, we are taking further steps to protect our most vulnerable seniors across the province and fix the broken system we inherited,” Premier Doug Ford said in a media release.

“We will do whatever it takes to get the job done because as Premier, the buck stops with me. I made a commitment to our long-term care residents and their families that there would be accountability and justice after receiving the military’s heart-breaking report on the state of five of our homes.”

Starting tomorrow, long-term care inspectors will be assessing six homes including those captured in the Canadian Armed Forces reports and any reports previously filed regarding critical incidents in those homes, Provincial officials say.

Six teams of two long-term care inspectors will go into each of the homes to do an expanded, stringent inspection process over a two-week period.

The six homes being inspected include Eatonville Care Centre, Hawthorne Place Care Centre, Orchard Villa, Altamont Care Community, Camilla Care Community, and Holland Christian Homes Inc.

The teams will develop a customized inspection plan based on the details outlined in the Canadian Armed Forces report.

Their inspections will include record and chart reviews; in-depth interviews with staff and residents; and observations in order to determine the extent of the issues, Provincial officials say.

The inspectors will follow a rigorous and consistent inspection methodology for all inspections.

After an inspection is completed in a high-risk home, the ministry will set up regular status calls, monitoring, as well as regular unannounced in-person follow up inspections with the home, Provincial officials say.

Results of these and all other inspections will be posted publicly on the ministry website.

The government is also inspecting other long-term care homes that are currently considered high-risk over the next 21 days.

Additionally, working with hospital and other partners, each of these homes will be required to submit a plan for the ministry that details how they intend to return to acceptable levels of care immediately.

“What we saw in the reports from the Canadian Armed Forces was gut-wrenching and appalling,” stated Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, in a media release.

“Our inspectors are professionals like nurses, dietitians and physiotherapists and they will stop at nothing to ensure all high-risk homes are quickly returned to places of safety and stability.”

Allegations such as the ones contained in the Canadian Armed Forces report triggers the Ministry of Long-Term Care to share its findings with other agencies which may result in:

– Police investigations and potential criminal charges

– Ministry of Labour inspections into worker health and safety, given the lack of training observed.

– Public health inspections into food preparation, etc.

– Referrals to professional colleges for practice standard violations, given medication management and care observations.

During this unprecedented time, inspectors will continue to be deployed to ensure all homes are compliant with the Long-Term Care Homes Act. When the ministry receives any information from any source, it is immediately triaged. Where there is high or moderate risk to residents, a risk level is assigned and inspections are conducted in the home, regardless of its outbreak status, Provincial officials say.

The Canadian Armed Forces will continue to provide support until June 12, 2020.

A recent emergency order made on May 12, 2020 allows the Ministry of Long-Term Care to order alternative management to temporarily manage a long-term care home where at least one resident or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, Provincial officials say.

A mandatory management order helps to address the outbreak and effectively protects our most vulnerable Ontarians from COVID-19.

Every long-term care home in Ontario gets inspected at least once a year.

The ministry’s more than 140 inspectors conducted 2,882 inspections in 2019 to ensure that long-term care homes are safe and well-operated, and are meeting all the requirements in the Act and Regulation, Provincial officials added.

Concerns about compliance in long-term care homes should be reported as soon as possible to the ministry by calling the Family Support and Action Line at 1-866-434-0144.

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