It has been more than a year since COVID-19 outbreaks first tore through many long-term care facilities in this country, resulting in more than 15,000 resident deaths, which account for approximately two-thirds of all fatal coronavirus cases in Canada.
It has also been a year of shocking revelations about the conditions at some facilities and failed responses that in many situations led to the needless loss of life among this frail population.
Those with little lived experience with or personal proximity to the long-term care world in Canada might be forgiven for assuming such horror stories were the norm.
But new data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute – canvassing the opinions and experiences of Canadians whose own family members and close friends were in long term care – indicate the vast majority believe their loved one’s LTC facility handled its COVID-19 response as well as “could be expected” (39%) or “well enough overall” (42%), while one-in-five say their loved one’s LTC facility failed in its duties.
The Institute sought to understand the experiences of more than 800 Canadians who currently have or have had a family member or close friend in care within the past year. From this report emerges a multifold story. While, as mentioned, most facilities are seen to have done at least an average job caring for the loved ones of those surveyed, not all facilities are created equal.
Criticisms are consistently higher for LTC facilities that are government-run or operated by large private companies as part of a chain. On each of the questions of overall COVID-19 handling, communication, and protection of residents, respondents whose loved ones were in smaller, privately run facilities are half as likely to offer a negative appraisal.
More Key Findings:
- For one-in-three respondents, based on their loved one’s current mental and physical health, at-home care for that individual would be impossible. For another 45 per cent, it would only be possible with considerable help
- Among those who visited long-term care frequently to visit their loved ones, one-third (31%) became more involved in providing care themselves after the pandemic began
- One-in-three respondents with loved ones in either a government-operated (34%) or larger chain-run private facility (31%) say staffing levels represent significant concerns. Those assessing smaller private facilities are half as likely to say this (16%)
- Overall, one-in-five Canadians would not recommend the current facility that their loved one is residing within, while the rest say that they probably (45%) or definitely (24%) would
- 46 per cent of respondents to this survey say there were COVID-19 cases in their loved ones LTC facility. One-in-ten say this person became sick but recovered (11%) while 6 per cent say they passed away