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News release
November 18, 2020

Doctors offer solutions for making long-term care homes safer

TORONTO, Nov. 18, 2020—As the pandemic moves back into long-term care homes, Ontario’s doctors are calling for urgent changes to prevent a second round of outbreaks, deaths and social isolation among some of our most vulnerable people.

In a submission to the province’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission, doctors made 14 recommendations in such areas as resident care and well-being, infection prevention and control and physician leadership.

“Much has been done since the pandemic began to improve conditions in long-term care facilities, but more needs to be done,” said Dr. Samantha Hill, president of the Ontario Medical Association. “Our parents, grandparents and other seniors deserve our best efforts to protect their health and prevent them from being socially isolated. This is not a blame game. Doctors welcome this independent investigation and look forward to working with other health-care disciplines to respond together.”

Residents of long-term care homes have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic, so far accounting for 63 per cent of COVID-related deaths in Ontario.

In the OMA submission, doctors called on the government to prioritize COVID testing for residents, staff and essential visitors in long-term homes and to ensure everyone caring for residents has an adequate supplies of personal protective equipment and training on how to use it properly.

They also called for an expansion of virtual health care and mobile teams to provide specialized expertise and on-the-ground support to long-term care homes. This will improve the ability to care for residents in their homes while limiting the spread of the virus.

Other OMA recommendations include:

  • grouping and isolating long-term care residents with COVID-19
  • making sure long-term care homes have enough staff and that they avoid non-essential movement of staff between homes
  • making sure long-term care residents have safe access to essential visitors, caregivers and other social supports to protect their mental health and avoid the devastating impacts of social isolation
  • having more and earlier conversations about advance care planning

“We recognize the strength, commitment and compassion of Ontario doctors and others on the front line of long-term care during the pandemic,” said OMA CEO Allan O’Dette. “The ultimate goal of every long-term care home and its staff is to ensure residents’ well-being and dignity. Ontario doctors share this goal and appreciate the opportunity to contribute our on-the-ground experience as we work with the government and other stakeholders to make improvements to protect those in long-term care.”

About the OMA

The Ontario Medical Association represents Ontario’s 43,000-plus physicians, medical students and retired physicians, advocating for and supporting doctors while strengthening the leadership role of doctors in caring for patients. Our vision is to be the trusted voice in transforming Ontario’s health-care system.

For more information, please contact:
Aleks Dhefto, OMA Media Relations