Reflecting on ACE’s Special Lecture on Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission Report
I recently had the opportunity to attend ACE’s Special Lecture on Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission Report. The event had a number of speakers, including a moderated session with The Honourable Justice Frank Marrocco, Lead Commissioner.
The important session provided unique insight into the Commission’s investigation, and the results of the Commission’s Report. Rather than focusing on many issues, briefly, Justice Marrocco was asked to provide his more detailed comments on three main areas of focus: (1) enforcement, (2) PSWs and their role in Long-Term Care, and (3) rebuilding the Long-Term Care system.
While Justice Marrocco offered many enlightening comments on the results of the Commission’s investigation, I have summarized just a few key takeaways from his findings below:
- The root of the inspection problem within LTC is the lack of inspectors – if there are not enough inspectors, resources shift away from focus on resident quality to complaint based inspections. Complaint based inspections can both put the onus on family members of residents to know the system and bring forth the complaint, and, it makes the assumption that there are involved family members, or, that the resident themselves has the ability or support to make a complaint;
- Home Insurers are a logical ally to ensure a safe environment and should be leaned on more heavily for enforcement purposes;
- The Ontario government has projected that the Province will require an additional 150,000 beds in LTC by 2041. Justice Marrocco noted his concern that this would equate to approximately the creation of 8,000 spaces per year to meet this goal, yet in the last 11 years, only 611 spaces have been created;
- The private sector may need to be looked to, to fill this gap;
- Facilities that were more community oriented and not institutionalized fared better during the Pandemic. Justice Marrocco pointed to homes where the facility was broken into smaller units, where employees who worked in a particular unit were consistent, and knew the people they were caring for – homes that placed a greater emphasis on full-time staff, all which created a better emotional, psychological and physical environment for residents;
- With regard to PSWs, Justice Marrocco commented that similar to inspections, the issue is related to a shortage of staff, and that hopefully through recruiting, educating, and professional regulation, the number of full-time PSWs working in LTC would increase;
- In concluding the moderated session, Justice Marrocco noted the very unique and difficult task the Commission was faced with – investigating something that was (and is) still happening. In normal course, Inquiries are established after the fact to look back and explain to the public why certain things happened the way they did. In this instance, the Commission was asked to investigate while in the midst of the Pandemic, making it very difficult to draw conclusions at this time.
The remainder of the session provided attendees with the further opportunity to hear from Dee Tripp of OARC (Ontario Association of Residents’ Councils) who provided insight into the experience of residents during the Pandemic, Jane Meadus of ACE, who provided insight into some of the legal concerns that arose in LTC during the Pandemic, such as unlawful detentions, and Susan Fraser of Fraser Advocacy, who provided insight into some of the remedies (and the issues with them) available in the system.
As we continue in the fourth wave of the Pandemic, Justice Marrocco expressed his hope that we continue to be better with testing, organizing lab resources, and vaccinations such that we can be on the right sight of the problem.
To read more on the COVID-19 Commission Report, please check out some of our previous blogs:
To access the Commission’s Final Report, please see here.
Thanks for reading!