In mid-April, during the COVID-19 crisis, members of the Canadian Military were sent to several long term care facilities in Ontario and Quebec to provide assistance to the dwindling staffs. Yesterday morning, the Canadian Military submitted a report to the Prime Minister outlining some of the horrific things they saw and experienced once they got inside the residences.
It is a heart-breaking and tragic situation when a long term care facility lets down the very people they are supposed to be caring for. We will not know for some time exactly what happened in each home. Staffing is certainly one of the issues that will be looked at when a review is made. Apparently many of these long term care homes were basically overwhelmed and left with no or few staff when some of them became sick or called in sick or even quit because they were too afraid to go to work.
There have been some successes in long-term care during this crisis. Here are two of the Quebec success stories.
Manoir Stanstead is a long term care facility in the beautiful Eastern Townships of Quebec. It has 53 residents. When the crisis broke (approximately March 14 was when Premier Legault told us all that we had to stay at home), the staff at the Manoir Stanstead locked the doors of their establishment. They then decided who amongst the staff was able to move in and live within the residence. Thirteen of the caregivers did just that. Having all the caregivers live under the same roof as the patients during the crisis prevented any infection from entering the home from the outside. Having their familiar caregivers about also mitigated the anxiety of the residents.
Chateau Westmount is a CHSLD located on the corner of de Maisonneuve and Victoria in Westmount. We know this place very well as we have often had clients there and we have visited every day. It is an extremely well run, happy home with high standards. They also have come through the crisis with zero cases, zero deaths.
While I do not know exactly what steps either the Manoir Stanstead or the Chateau Westmount took to keep their facilities “cold” (to use the phraseology of Minister McCann), I am sure they would have included some if not all of the following:
- A pandemic plan (made well in advance of the current COVID-19 crisis and rehearsed and well ingrained in the minds of the staff)
- Daily screening of residents and staff
- No visitors
- Scrupulous hygiene and cleansing of high touch areas
- Scrupulous hand washing (10 – 15 times per day)
- Changing and disposing of gowns/masks/gloves after each resident visit
- Paying a good remuneration to the staff, providing lots of breaks and paid sick days if they need them
- Excellent nutrition for the residents
- Lots of water and fluids
- Regular communication with family members via Skype or telephone (every patient should have a tablet just as they have a telephone in their room)
- Engage and care for the residents to reduce their anxiety
Things in Montreal are beginning to open up slowly. However, there is no doubt that there will be a second wave this fall. In the delivery of our home care services we are assuming that we must remain vigilant and on guard until further notice. This means that we are following all the directives of the Quebec Department of Public Health and will do so until told otherwise.
N.B. and Thank You: The map of the Stanstead/Derby line is copyright Canadian Geographic Magazine. The photo of Chateau Westmount is copyright Chateau Westmount.