COVID-19 exposes issues with Ontario’s long-term care facilities

press release, media

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed long-running issues with Ontario’s nursing home and care facilities. Injury and disability lawyer Tamar Agopian argues that for years, long-term care homes across the province have been plagued by underfunding, staff shortages, lack of adherence to government regulations and failure by the government to provide adequate oversight into the practices of these facilities.

While Ontario is now temporarily preventing long-term care staff from working at multiple homes (in an effort to cut down on the spread of COVID-19 between locations), the practice has been observed for years, as staff often work at multiple facilities because they are unable to secure full-time positions. It is being reported that the temporary order still allows for temp agency care staff to continue working at multiple locations, bringing into question the effectiveness of the ban. This move will also likely exacerbate common forms of negligence (lack of basic needs, sanitation, proper nutrition).

Pre-coronavirus, the province claimed that each care home underwent an annual inspection to ensure that care was being properly delivered. However, recent reporting has found that in 2019, only 9 out of 626 long-term care homes actually received a resident quality inspection.

While long-term care staff are the heroes of the front lines in the fight against COVID-19, the facilities themselves, as well as the government, will have much to answer for – and they cannot lay the blame solely on COVID-19, as these issues have been in play well before the coronavirus outbreak.

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