Canadian News Jul 6, 2020 6:38 PM EST

Canada's long-term care system reported to have failed elders

A highly critical report released says that Canada has failed to protect elders residing in long-term care before and during the pandemic.

Canada's long-term care system reported to have failed elders
Sam Edwards High Level, Alberta
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A highly critical report released by the Royal Society of Canada says that Canada has failed to protect elders residing in long-term care before and during the pandemic, reports CTV News.

The report was completed by a working group chaired by the University of Alberta’s Dr. Carole Estabrooks.

The report found that the pandemic exposed a number of deficiencies that have been a part of the system for a long time and have caused "physical, mental and emotional suffering" for seniors.

"Those lives lost unnecessarily had value," reads the report. "Those older adults deserved a good closing phase of their lives and a good death. We failed them."

The Covid-19 task force of the Royal Society created the working group which said that the failure’s causes are complex but rooted in "systemic and deeply institutionalized implicit attitudes about age and gender."

Authors of the report say the homes have let the staff-to-patient ratios drop too much and the workforce has recently become increasingly unregulated.

"(Those unregulated workers) receive the lowest wages in the health-care sector, are given variable and minimal formal training in (long-term care), and are rarely part of decision-making about care for residents," reads the report.

The report noted that 81 percent of the coronavirus deaths in Canada have taken place in long-term care homes. That number is much higher than many comparable countries including, the United States at 31 percent, Australia at 28 percent and Spain at 66 percent.

According to the report, authorities have not listened to long-term care residents or their caregivers. It adds that long-term care homes in Canada are usually housed in older buildings and have more shared bathrooms and bedrooms, making it much easier for coronavirus to spread from person to person.

"We have a duty to care and to fix this—not just to fix the current communicable disease crisis, but to fix the sector that enabled that crisis to wreak such avoidable and tragic havoc," wrote the authors.

The report also points out a lack of personal protective equipment and basic infection controls, adding that many workers are employed in multiple facilities.

There are nine recommendations included in the report for addressing understaffed, overwhelmed and underpaid employees.

It says provinces in Canada must "immediately implement appropriate pay and benefits, including sick leave, for the large and critical unregulated workforce of direct care aides and personal support workers" as well as mental health support and ongoing training.

The report also mentioned a "one workplace" policy in which staff are prevented from moving between facilities.

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