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Monday, 27 April 2020

Long-Term Care Homes Were Short-Staffed Before Coronavirus

There is so much more to improving quality than increasing inspections - and inspections need to focus on what really matters: management responsibility. In the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties of the last century W. Edwards Deming was teaching auto manufacturers that you cannot inspect in quality, it has to be built in. Catching defects at inspection is too late. The Japanese listened and their auto industry overtook the American industry in quality, sales and profits - in that order. Quality drove sales which in turn drove profits.

Nathan Denette/Canadian Press

For the last seven years or more in Ontario we have been focussing on inspections and accreditations based on protocols and policies. But we were defective in the most important of management responsibilities - ensuring adequate resources, especially human resources, pretending to provide the absolute minimum required by legislation and regulations. Then, last year, we even gave up on inspections! The pretense really looked sustainable - until the Coronavirus hit us with the hellish reality of COVID-19.

To be living, or working, in an Ontario or Quebec long term care nursing home at the moment must be hell on earth. A few hours ago I received an email from a friend which reads in part,
"His Mother passed away on Sunday.  He wants you to know that she didn’t die of the coronavirus. However, she is a casualty of the virus because she did not receive the care that she needed. She was left alone in her room for 14 days. She declined rapidly. Fortunately he was able to see his mother the day before she died. He is pretty devastated by his loss and overcome with grief."

I feel devastated not only for my friend and his mother, but also thinking about the countless other long term care residents and dementia patients, and their families, continuing to go through that experience right now - as well as the overworked and overwrought PSW's and healthcare workers in these understaffed facilities.

This is not due to a failure in duty of care by these PSWs and other healthcare workers. The responsibility lies with senior and executive management, owners and shareholders, and all levels of government. Please read the Huffpost article, "Why Ontario’s Long-Term Care Homes Were Short-Staffed Long Before Coronavirus" by Emma Paling. It does not pretend to provide solutions, but certainly helps get insight into some of the problems.

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