#Ontario; #ForProfitLongTermCareHomes; #NonProfitCareHomes
Ottawa, Jul 23 (Canadian-Media): Significantly worse outbreaks of COVID-19 and more related deaths were experienced by for-profit long-term care homes in Ontario than their non-profit or municipally run counterparts, according to a new study released in the peer-reviewed Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) July 22.
Long Term Care Homes. Image credit: Wikipedia
Questions were raised by this paper about the ownership status of nursing homes, and quality of care.
All the 623 long-term care homes in Ontario housing more than 75,000 seniors, from March 29 — the date of the first reported case of coronavirus in a home — until May 20 were looked at by the research.
Most of the seniors suffered from multiple health conditions, both physical and cognitive.
Of more than 5,200 residents contracted COVID-19 during the study period, 1,450, more than one quarter of those infected, died.
57 percent of nursing homes in Ontario are set up to be profit-making, the highest rate in the country, 26 percent are non-profit, and 16 percent are run by municipalities.
“We did find evidence that for-profit LTC homes have larger COVID-19 outbreaks and more deaths of residents from COVID-19 than non-profit and municipal homes,” the study said.
“Those with older design standards appear to show worse outcomes.”
The study, co-authored by Dr. Nathan Stall with the Sinai Health System and University Health Network in Toronto, also found that chain-operated for-profit homes -- 85 percent of the commercial facilities -- run a significantly higher risk of worse COVID outcomes.
Many beds are at or below 1972 standards.
Dr. Samir Sinha, a Toronto-based geriatrician not involved in the study, said 30,000 long-term care beds in Ontario are in dire need of upgrades.
"Many of these older multi-bedded homes happen to be owned by for-profits," Sinha said. "The study really speaks to the need to redevelop that."
Ontario Premier Doug Ford's had initially promised to build 15,000 beds in five years and redevelop another 15,000, Sinha said.
But, only a relative handful have been built or redeveloped.
Last week, it was announced by Ontario government that it is changing the way it funds long-term care home expansions in a bid to spur construction, while conceding it would now pay for 8,000 new beds, and 12,000 renovated beds in the same five-year period.
It has also limited room occupancy to two, further increasing bed shortages.
The Ontario Long Term Care association, responsible for nursing homes and has complained about underfunding, did not respond to a request for comment on the study.
The Ontario Health Coalition said on July 22 that 95 percent of staff in Ontario's nursing homes reported basic care needs of residents -- such as bathing, oral care and emotional support -- were not being unmet due to staff shortages.
Others said they didn't have enough time to properly feed residents, get them to the washroom on time, or make sure they didn't develop pressure ulcers -- a situation especially problematic at night and on weekends. Most respondents reported the situation had worsened since the pandemic hit in March.
In response, Ford said the survey findings show why his government passed ongoing emergency powers to be able to "flow staff from the hospitals into long-term care."
Previous research has shown staffing levels play a key role in COVID-19 outcomes, with one California study finding under-staffing doubled the chances of residents' becoming infected.
"If requirements to fund adequate levels of staffing affect the bottom lines of for-profit facilities, then it might be time for this care to be turned over to public and non-profit entities," the journal commentary says.