April 16, 2020
Premier Stephen McNeil, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: Additional Urgent Measures Needed to Assist Long-Term Care
Dear Mr. Premier,
We appreciated your comments and advice to everyone concerned about long-term care at the end of your daily update on Wednesday, April 15. We support all the public health measures which have been directed and are being followed. At the same time, we think there are some important steps missing which are also urgent, especially considering the increasing incidence of Covid-19 in long-term care and the desperate situation with long-term care in Quebec and Ontario.
We hope your government will agree to providing supplemental income to long-term care staff as being proposed by the federal government. Low rates of pay and benefits has long been an issue of concern in the long-term care sector.
We have already urged you to provide more funding to this sector so that they are able to hire and access all the qualified staff (including liaison staff to work with loved ones) and volunteers they will need. We think joint discussions should be initiated as soon as possible with all stakeholders of each facility or group of facilities (that is, government, management, unions, front-line workers themselves, advocates, family members) to determine how many staff and volunteers are needed, We would further urge a provincial recruitment and retention strategy for the current circumstances and beyond needs to be put in place as quickly as possible.
The number of inspections of facilities should be increased so that they are inspected on a daily basis. The current number of nine inspectors should be increased to make this possible. We need active and ongoing inspections right away.
The isolation capacity of facilities should be increased to allow one resident per room, or as close to that as possible. This is vital as an important social distancing measure.
If inspections reveal shortage of staff and dangerous circumstances, will your government consider allowing next of kin (screened and cleared of having Covid) to help with the care of their loved one in LTC? Will your government also consider diverting workers from hospitals to nursing homes, or requesting for assistance from health care skilled military personnel if there are not enough health care workers in any LTC facility?
In our view, the long-term care sector has been in crisis for a long time due to chronic underfunding and understaffing. The Covid-19 crisis has laid bare and made this unacceptable situation much worse. As former family members of loved ones in long-term care, we believe all these measures in addition to the important public health measures now being taken are critical to preventing and responding to the deepening crisis in long-term care.
We hope you will give serious consideration to our concerns and recommendations. We are willing to assist you and your government in any way we can during this very difficult period.
Gary MacLeod, Chair, The ACE (Advocates for the Care of the Elderly) Team
c. Hon Randy Delorey, Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Robert Strang, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Carr, President and CEO, Nova Scotia Health Authority, Vicki Elliott-Lopez, Senior Executive Director, Continuing Care, Tim Houston, PC Leader, Barbara Adams, PC Long-Term Care Critic, Gary Burrill, NDP Leader, Danny Cavanagh, President, Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, Media Outlets