I hope that the general public feel as angry as I do about the abuse of older adults in the care of long-term care facilities.
A few short months ago, we read the headlines telling us of the shocking news of overcrowding in Ontario jails. They were in such dire straits that (gasp) they were being housed four to a cell. That situation was contrary to their human rights. Now, we are reading that, in this Province of Ontario, the richest province in Canada, seniors are being warehoused in facilities where many must be assigned four to a room.
Now this situation has led to the death of many seniors in long term facilities across the country, particularly in Ontario and Quebec. When the pandemic hit and residents succumbed to COVID-19, conditions were so crowded that there was no place to isolate those who were attacked by this very contagious virus. It was a tragedy waiting to happen and, apparently, there is now evidence that we were warned that a pandemic was overdue.
I recall that Premier Ford, when campaigning during the last election, talked about hallway health care, meaning that active treatment hospitals were frequently so short of available beds that patients waited for space while lying on a hospital bed in hallways. One of the principal reasons for this situation was the shortage of long-term care beds in the community. When patients recover from the health problems that resulted in hospitalization, but are no longer able to care for themselves at home, the response is to transfer them to a long-term care facility. The waiting list for transfer is long, so, in the meantime, these patients are in beds badly needed for those who require active treatment. This raises the question of what progress has been made since the election to ensure that new and modern facilities are being built.
There is currently an uproar and many questions are being asked now, because more than half of the deaths from COVID 19 are occurring in these facilities. Will, as in the past, today’s issue become yesterday’s news? The media are shouting that we should have known that such conditions would lead to tragedy. We did know, and are suddenly making changes to help protect residents. I fear that the barn door has closed. It is too little, too late to help those who have died.