The start of a new week has brought with it a number of positive developments at several of our homes across the province.
Over the weekend, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit confirmed that Manoir Marochel in Ottawa was out of outbreak, with all cases having been resolved in accordance with the standards set out by provincial health authorities. Today, we were informed by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health that our Shelburne Long-Term Care home has officially had its outbreak declared “over” as well.
We have also now received all the results of the tests that were conducted at Port Perry Place and Regency and are pleased to share with the community that the homes have no cases of COVID-19.
With this news, we remain cautiously optimistic that our measures, and the efforts of our care staff, are making a difference in the fight against this terrible virus.
We also know though, that this virus is new and unpredictable, and that the vulnerable people we care for are particularly at risk. As has been indicated by medical officers across the province, there is potential for spikes to occur and new cases to emerge, and we must be vigilant and diligent in our precautions.
In order to continue to protect the health and safety of our residents, staff and their families, and ensure homes like Manoir Marochel, Shelburne, Port Perry Place and Regency remain free of COVID-19, we will continue to enforce outbreak response measures across our homes, in accordance with the standards and expectations of the provincial government and regional medical authorities.
As we continue to navigate the changing landscape of COVID-19, we would like to once again extend our appreciation to everyone within our community for your support and assistance in this fight. Together we are making a difference.
Earlier this week, families, friends, staff and residents at Country Village in Woodslee received some good news: the outbreak at the home was declared over by the Windsor Essex County Public Health Unit on May 19.
Parkview Manor in Chesley also received similar news coming out of outbreak on May 18.
In addition, over the past week a large number of our homes have completed their universal testing and have reported no positive COVID 19 cases.
While provincial and federal health authorities and governments are cautiously optimistic that the curve is beginning to flatten, and the province has begun to reopen its economy, we know that the landscape surrounding COVID-19 is still shifting and evolving.
For those like us in the long-term care sector, the declared end to an outbreak is not truly the end. It simply means that now, more than ever, we must be vigilant and cautious in how we maintain our health and safety measures.
We know families will continue to be encouraged and relieved by these good news stories and will likely hope for physical interactions with their loved ones in the near future. We are however, maintaining our protocols, including limiting access to our facilities to essential personnel only, to ensure recovered homes like Country Village and Maple View remain protected and free of this devastating virus.
Our priority is to ensure that our home remains free of COVID-19, and we are continuing our efforts to protect the health and safety of our residents, staff and their loved ones.
The Victoria Day long-weekend is often considered the unofficial start to summer, and as our days get warmer, and the provincial government begins to re-open the economy, we know that many people will be hopeful that access to Ontario’s long-term care homes will begin to open up as well.
And while we would like nothing more than to see families physically connected once more, for everyone’s safety we are continuing to keep our outbreak response measures in place. These measures include limiting access to the facility to essential personnel only, continuing to screen staff and residents and monitor for symptoms, requiring proper PPE use to be observed, and continuing sanitization and disinfection protocols. These measures will remain in place until health authorities deem it safe to lift them.
We know that being away from your loved ones hasn’t been easy, and we want to say ‘thank you’ to all the families who have supported us in this fight. Your participation in our outbreak response plan has helped us minimize risks and save the lives of some of our most vulnerable citizens.
Over the past several weeks, we’ve experienced a number of challenges and changes in our lives as a result of COVID-19. Through it all though, we’ve seen communities come together, sacrificing time with their loved ones in order to help save the lives of our elderly and most vulnerable people.
Throughout these difficult times, we have consistently seen our care workers, and in particular our nursing staff, offer support and strength to residents and their families.
In honour of National Nursing Week, we want to shine a special light on these remarkable healthcare professionals, and share with them our thanks and appreciation for all that they do. They continuously impress and inspire us with their compassion, dedication, and passion for helping others.
For our team members, the battle against COVID-19 is deeply personal, and nothing is more devastating to them than losing a resident in their care.
Many of our team members have also had to isolate from their families to keep them safe, or sacrifice time with their own loved ones to provide care and support to our residents and their families.
We are so proud of all of our team members, and we extend our sincere appreciation for all that you do, in closing two small words but they mean so much: thank you.
To the Southbridge Care Homes community,
RE: Response by Ontario’s long-term care sector to COVID-19
Over the past several weeks, Ontario’s long-term care (LTC) sector has faced challenges never before experienced as a result of COVID-19. Families have felt the sadness of losing loved ones, while some care staff have felt the heartache of having to isolate from their families to keep them safe.
In April, we began mass testing across our thirty-seven homes in conjunction with the local public health units which is supported by the governments directive to test all residents of long-term care and retirement homes in Ontario. As of today, we have seven homes that have cases of COVID-19 with two of these seven having only one resident case and another home which expects to have all resident cases cleared by May 14. These outbreaks are not without their tragedies, as sadly, a number of residents have passed away as a result of this terrible virus. On behalf of everyone on our team, we would like to extend our sincere sympathies to their families. Each of these individuals brought their own unique spirit and joy to the residences they called home, and they are deeply missed by other residents and staff.
Protecting the health and well-being of everyone within the Southbridge community is always our top priority. With the spread of COVID-19, we have strengthened our existing protocols and established a number of new protective measures, including the following. A complete list of our actions can be found in our prior posts on this site.
- Working closely with the local Public Health Unit and the Ministry of Health to implement all directives from the start of the pandemic.
- All staff are screened for any symptoms of illness and temperatures are taken upon entering the building and again before leaving.
- We are working with our community health care partners to access additional staff and resources where needed.
- Our employees are not working at other homes.
- Residents who test positive are in isolation in their rooms with staff assigned to care for them, and tray service for meals is provided.
- Staff are working in assigned areas to reduce the risk of carrying the virus between home areas.
- Rooms where residents are living are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized including the use of equipment specifically designed to enhance infection control.
- Increased cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as handrails and elevator buttons.
- Staff have necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to deliver care and services to our residents and to protect our team members.
- Only essential visitors are permitted into the home following screening and provision of PPE for the visitor.
While we continue to navigate this evolving situation, we would like to take this opportunity to address some common questions we field:
- I called requesting health information of a loved one but was turned down. Why?
We recognize and appreciate that during these extremely difficult times many family members are looking for as much information as possible about their loved ones.
In keeping with Ontario’s Privacy legislation, we can only provide a resident’s personal health information to either the Power of Attorney (POA) or substitute decision maker (SDM), and that is the only person who can receive this information. While we know that residents have many individuals who love them and want to ensure they are receiving proper care, we are simply unable to provide information to anyone but the identified POA or SDM.
In the unfortunate situation where a resident has passed away, the POA will be notified of the passing, and from that point forward we can only share health records with the executor of the estate.
- Do some of your homes have past citations and orders issued by the Ministry of Long-Term Care?
We operate within a highly regulated environment. Long-term care homes are required to meet more than 1,000 standards set out in more than 600 regulations. We, at Southbridge, take great care to ensure that we are always working to be compliant with regulatory standards. We take pride in our work, caring for some of our most vulnerable people in our population.
As set out by the Ministry of Long-Term Care, we are subject to inspections. These inspections may include interviews with residents, family members and staff as well as direct observations of how care is being delivered. Results of inspections are publicly available to anyone wishing to see them.
- Why have you not responded in a timely manner to the pandemic, which resulted in staffing shortages, personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages, and inadequate testing.
A global pandemic of this scope and scale is entirely unprecedented not just in Ontario, but on a national and international level as well. At all times, our homes have relied on the advice and guidance of medical authorities, infection prevention and control experts and the Ontario government when responding to this global pandemic. In light of how rapidly our lives have changed, it is easy to forget that this virus has only existed for a few months, and that governments do not yet have a comprehensive understanding of it.
While we have gone to great lengths to ensure that we are acting swiftly in addressing the challenges we are faced with, staffing issues can only be fully addressed if we are effectively empowered and supported by our partners. Likewise, we are only able to test residents and staff as swabs and testing kits become available.
PPE items that long-term care homes require are in an unprecedented high demand by many industries and sectors across the globe as a result of this pandemic. Long-term care is certainly a priority industry, and, despite reports in the media, Southbridge has always had sufficient supplies of PPE.
- Do you have enough staff and are they properly recognized and supported?
This pandemic has impacted our homes in many ways, including staffing levels. Our staff are not immune to this virus, and in our efforts to limit potential spread, we acted with great caution. In some of our homes we have had to rely on support from partner healthcare organizations to ensure residents’ needs are being met while keeping up with daily cleaning, dietary regimes, administrative duties and connecting with families.
Staff across our homes, from nurses and PSWs to cleaning and administrative personnel have consistently put our residents’ health and well-being first. There are countless incidences of staff going above and beyond, from using devices to connect residents with loved ones, to staying at work past their shift to support our homes. These stories are depictive of our truly heroic staff, several of whom are missing their own families while caring for our vulnerable residents.
Our staff deserve recognition for the important roles they are playing on the frontline of this battle against COVID-19. But more importantly, they deserve to be recognized for doing this day in and day out, even when there is not a pandemic. Their ability to care for our residents is truly commendable.
As this pandemic comes under control and we move into the next stage, we look forward to participating in a review process of our long-term care sector. We want to contribute to the sector’s plans and ability to respond to future outbreaks and pandemics through shared best practices and key learnings. This will enable us to continue to care for and protect our residents and staff in the face of future infectious disease outbreaks. We will continue to inform and support advocacy efforts with government about where focus and change is needed.
There’s an old saying that a mother is someone who can take the place of all others, but who can never be replaced by someone else. Their warm hugs, gentle words and bright smiles feel like they were made specially for us, their children.
We know it hasn’t been easy to physically distance ourselves from them over the past few months, especially on Mother’s Day. But thanks to the support of families and our communities, we were still able to show love to our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and sisters in new and unique ways.
Thank you to everyone who made Mother’s Day extra special this year. To see more photos from the special day, please visit us on Facebook.
Ladies at the Regency care home in Port Hope get ready to attend a parade celebrating Mother’s Day.
Outbreak Update – Daily Update
Below is a listing of the of the homes that are currently in COVID 19 outbreak as of May 28, 2020.
- Orchard Villa Retirement Home, Pickering
Long-Term Care Homes
- Chelsey Park Long-Term Care, London
- Craiglee Long-Term Care, Scarborough
- Maitland Manor, Goderich
- Orchard Villa Long-Term Care, Pickering
- Pinecrest Nursing Home, Plantagenet
- West Park, St. Catharines