Long-term care (LTC) and retirement communities in Scarborough and across Ontario have weathered quite a storm. Thousands of media stories have recounted the harrowing experiences of residents, their families and caregivers, and staff affected by and with COVID-19. No doubt, the pandemic unleashed a fury of challenging new circumstances upon these individuals.
“With close ties to these residences and unique pandemic expertise, we recognized early on that the LTC community might need our help. They are our neighbours and we are in this together. It’s our privilege to support them,” stated Dr. Bert Lauwers, Acting Chief of Staff and Executive Vice President, Medical and Clinical Programs, Scarborough Health Network (SHN).
- In April, SHN formed an incident management system in partnership with 20 of Scarborough’s LTC and retirement homes to support their unique challenges. SHN experts shared guidance, education, resources and staffing to support COVID-19 testing, cleaning, infection prevention and control, resident care, and more, as needed and tailored to the needs of each home. (Special thanks to Carefirst Seniors and Community Services Association for providing transportation for our teams!)
- In June, SHN entered into formal management agreements with Altamont Care Community and Extendicare Guildwood to help them restore safe care environments. In addition to providing on-site leadership, SHN is equipping these residences with the education and tools required to sustain enhanced levels of protection for residents and staff into the future.
- As part of this work, SHN shared interim reports outlining a series of recommendations for each organization in July. The reports share early insights into the systemic issues that prevailed at many LTC homes during the pandemic, and at Altamont and Extendicare Guildwood, specifically.
- Each residence has already implemented several of the recommendations, and incredible progress is being made. Implementation and sustainability plans – including preparing for a possible second wave of COVID-19 – are underway for the remaining deliverables.
- With Scarborough recently entering into Stage 3 of the Ontario government’s gradual reopening plan, along with the meticulous infection prevention and control and environmental services in place, LTC and retirement homes are preparing to safely welcome in nonessential services like hair care providers. Happily, indoor and outdoor family visits, as well as dining room service, have also returned at many homes.
“I am immensely proud of our staff and physicians who have voluntarily dedicated themselves to helping Scarborough’s long-term care community. They are making incredible strides,” said Elizabeth Buller, President and CEO, SHN.
“Not to mention the admirable LTC and retirement home staff across Scarborough who are persevering through vulnerable circumstances to improve resident care and create healthier environments for everyone who lives and works among this community.”
Improving population health, health equity, and system integration in Scarborough is a core element of SHN’s strategic plan. This is critical as the health network works with fellow health service partners to shape the future of care; one in which health care system resilience is built for the 632,000 residents of Scarborough across the continuum of care, whether residents are in hospitals, LTC homes, retirement homes, assisted living, congregate care settings, or in their own homes.
Learn more about SHN’s pandemic response efforts at SHN.ca/covid-19/.