Long term care review identifies recommendations for enhancement
A recent report on the review of practices used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in long term care facilities identifies 17 recommendations to enhance care for residents.
“I want to thank the review panel for their extensive work on this report. This will assist us in enhancing the long term care sectors, both public and private, across the province. I also want to thank all staff of PEI’s long term care facilities, for their dedication, professionalism and compassion throughout the pandemic. By identifying specific challenges, we are able to move forward to address them, and find ways to improve the lives of long term care residents here in Prince Edward Island. I am pleased that our department is already working on many of the initiatives noted in the report, and look forward to sharing more on this progress as we move forward.”
- Health and Wellness Minister, Mark McLane.
In February, the provincial government committed to forming a Long-Term Care COVID-19 External Review Panel to study the performance of Prince Edward Island’s public and private long-term care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report highlights four areas directly related to the pandemic experience:
- Enhancing resident-centered care
- Strengthening infection prevention and control
- Workforce recovery and development
- Improving the long-term resiliency of PEI’s LTC system (oversight and accountability).
“This report was made possible thanks to the significant contributions made from many to inform us in this work,” said report author Michele Dorsey. “The recommendations we have laid out complement the national standards for LTC, and taken together, offer solutions to addressing challenges facing the LTC sector. We encourage government to establish a process for monitoring the progress on implementing the recommendations in this report, including the national standards.”
Implementation of the recommendations is now underway and will significantly improve care for residents of LTC and increase support for those working in the sector overall, and specifically in the event of an infectious disease event or pandemic.
Several of the recommendations within the report are already at the development or implementation stages:
- Align public and private sectors to a common care staff model in accordance with resident care requirements and consideration of minimum qualifications, recruitment, retention and addressing wage parity
- Strengthen and align infection prevention and control capacity across the LTC sector
- Establish a single legislative act that governs all LTC homes including bringing them under a common accreditation and inspection system
Through the review, the Long Term Care COVID-19 External Review Panel was asked to comment on the pandemic impact of existing physical infrastructure, staffing approaches, clinical oversight and other features of the LTC system, specifically assessing the impact of these factors on the prevention and spread of COVID-19 in the facilities.
Through surveys, interviews, stakeholder meetings, and document reviews, several challenges were identified that influenced the pandemic response and the outcomes experienced by residents, partners in care, and staff of LTC homes. Some of these issues are specific to the pandemic while others represent long standing challenges for LTC homes.
Pre-existing conditions that exacerbated the effects of the pandemic include:
- LTC homes were not sufficiently prepared for a pandemic
- Public and private LTC homes in the province operate differently, resulting in multiple inconsistencies and inequities, e.g., in resource availability, resident and family access to services, gaps in wages and benefits for staff
- Staffing levels had not kept pace with the increased complexities of today’s resident population
- Neither LTC homes nor the system had enough data with which to manage the system or a major event such as a pandemic
Pandemic specific challenges:
• Resident-centred care quality deteriorated
• Facility lockdowns intensified resident isolation and had a negative impact on resident health quality of life and that of their family or partners in care
• Staffing was insufficient to balance the demands of the pandemic with resident care
• Restrictions on staff mobility between workplaces negatively affected the ability of operators to adequately staff their homes
• High levels of stress and burnout had a negative effect on workers and resulted in workers leaving LTC.
The recommendations in this report complement the new national standards, and taken together, offer solutions to addressing challenges facing the LTC sector.
Department of Health and Wellness