A public review of draft standards for Canadian nursing homes has begun, as some homes begin administering fourth doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to their residents.
After months of consultations and 16,000 responses to its national survey, the Health Standards Organization (HSO) released its second draft report on Tuesday.
HSO is an international group that develops evidence-based standards for health and social services.
Survey respondents said the following is needed:
- high-quality care and the funds to provide it;
- residents and staff are safe;
- that the rights of residents are respected;
- that staff are supported, competent and stable;
- greater accountability; and
- that the authorization of for-profit care be reconsidered.
Respondents also said residents needed more private spaces and nutritious meals, and their homes needed better cleaning and maintenance.
When the pandemic began in March 2020, more long-term care residents died, compared to the general population, and the existing issues of low health and safety standards, insufficient and poorly trained staff, and overall care inadequate were exposed.
“Of the more than 30,000 deaths to date since the start of the pandemic in Canada, 51%, or approximately 16,000 deaths, have occurred in long-term care facilities,” said Samir Sinha, chair of the technical committee. ASS long-term care service standards.
Funding is key to solving the problems, said Sinha, who is also a geriatrics specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.
“If you want to activate the standard, you have to solve funding issues,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “You need to have better staff. We need to have better levels of accountability.
In its 2020 Fall Economic Statement, the federal government pledged $1 billion for a Secure Long-Term Care Fund. In its April budget, it announced an additional $3 billion for nursing homes to improve their standards.
Sinha said he hopes the final standards, expected by the end of the year, will “help governments appreciate what long-term care really should be and how it should be appropriately funded”.
The committee will work on its final report once the two-month public review concludes on March 27. The standards for long-term care were last updated in 2020.
“In light of what we have collectively experienced over the past two years, our government obviously welcomes this initiative,” the ministers of health and seniors told iPolitics in a joint email.
Once the final report is released, how the standards are used will be up to provinces, territories and the federal government, Sinha said.