Toronto needs to spend $14M to keep residents safe in long-term care homes: report

Jun 16 2020, 3:12 pm

Toronto will need to spend an additional $14.3 million to maintain changes that the city has made to its long-term care homes, to ensure the safety of residents, in case a second wave of COVID-19 occurs.

The COVID-19 Pandemic in the City of Toronto Long-Term Care Homes report, written by the City’s Seniors Services and Long-Term Care Division (SSLTC), outlines the response by staff before the pandemic, its actions during the crisis, and 16 recommendations from staff on how the city can maintain safety at its 10 long-term care homes.

On Monday, Mayor John Tory released the report.

“The older people in our community deserve to live with respect and dignity. The City’s dedicated long-term care staff are committed to their residents and continuously improving living conditions,” Tory said.

“Through this report, my colleagues on council and I can oversee the implementation of systemic changes to address challenging areas in our long-term care homes to make them safer and more responsive to the needs of residents.”

The breakdown of the total cost to implement the $14.3 million in recommendations include:

  • Maintaining active screening, with an estimated cost of approximately $3.5 million per year
  • Maintaining mandatory masking and full access to PPE with an estimated cost of approximately $7.5 million per year
  •  Maintaining strong IPAC and improving processes based on emerging scientific evidence and best practices with an estimated cost of approximately $2.0 million per year for additional supplies and staff
  • Continuing to focus on the full-time staffing complement to achieve 70% to 30% full- time part-time target with an estimated cost of approximately $1.2 million per year

Moving forward, City long-term care homes will include extra health and safety measures, based on guidance from Toronto Public Health, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and Ontario Health, that include:

  • Maintaining screening of staff, essential visitors, and residents
  • Ensuring physical distancing throughout the home
  • Maintaining infection prevention and control leading practices
  • Resuming communal dining for residents, while maintaining physical distance
  • Resuming resident programs with maximum of five residents per group
  • Resuming medical and other service appointments, while continuing to focus on virtual consults where appropriate
  • Admitting returning residents and new residents that test negative 24 hours prior to admission.

According to the City, at one point during the pandemic, all City long-term care homes reported residents and/or staff with the virus. But to date, now just 11 residents in three City homes are positive for coronavirus.

“To all those who have lost a loved one due to COVID-19, the City of Toronto extends its deepest condolences. Staff in the City’s Seniors Services and Long-Term Care division share in the deep sense of loss and are committed to doing everything possible to fight this virus now and to improve outcomes for residents in long-term care homes in the future,” the City said.

It’s important to note that Toronto does not regulate or license long-term care homes – that is the purview of the Province of Ontario, through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

All operators whether municipal homes, private companies or non-profits, receive the same provincial funding, charge the same accommodation rates, and must adhere to the same compliance and regulatory standards through the Long-Term Care Homes Act.

In May, the Canadian Armed Forces had to take over five long-term care facilities in the GTA that were struggling to contain outbreaks.

The CAF then filed a report on the facilities conditions claiming “serious concerns” around staffing, infection prevention and control, resident safety, food preparation, and janitorial services.

The provincial government then followed with an announcement to take over five more long-term care homes that Premier Doug Ford was “most concerned” about and will perform “rigorous inspections” of 13 more homes over the coming weeks.

Last week, the province announced the “cautious start” of allowing visitors to go see their family and loved ones in long-term care homes starting this Thursday.

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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