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New report highlights pandemic mistakes in B.C. long-term care homes

A new report on mistakes made in B.C.’s long-term care sector during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic points to two major failures that impacted residents: a lack of visitors, and a lack of staff.

The report from UBC researchers in collaboration with the BC Care Providers Association includes several recommendations to improve care during the next big outbreak.

Among them: Friends and family should never again be banned from visiting loved ones in long-term care.

“We saw the physical and mental health of residents and their families decline because of that separation,” said Terry Lake, the CEO of the BC Care Providers Association.

“Our long-term care residents, they had severe feelings of isolation and loneliness. Some of them compared their experiences living in the pandemic, living in these facilities to being in a prison,” said Dr. Farinaz Havaei, an assistant professor at the UBC School of Nursing who also worked on the report, which recommends every resident identify one essential visitor who would be permitted at all times, even during an outbreak.

Another recommendation is that long-term care homes focus on staff recruitment and retention, and ensure they have a contingency plan.

“There was no casual pool to fill in when someone was sick, so people had to work vast amounts of overtime. They got burned out and left the system, which made the situation worse across the board,” said Lake.

Dr. David Keselman, the CEO of Louis Brier Home and Hospital in Vancouver, says staffing needs to be tailored to the care home’s population.

“We don’t plan according to the needs of the resident, we don’t plan according to frailty. We plan based on an approach that is not scientific, and is not evidence-based,” said Keselman.

The report authors acknowledge some of their recommendations would require more funding.

“We have under-invested in seniors care across Canada for a long time now, and it’s going to take a lot of resources to really meet that challenge,” said Lake.

Keselman said if the pieces are put in place before the next big outbreak, lives could be saved, adding: “I am hoping that the lessons that were learned as a result of everything that happened over the last two years will actually be put to some sort of a plan – that it didn’t happen for nothing.” Top Stories

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