Quebec long-term care homes grappling with staffing, personal equipment challenges: military report

Quebec is asking for the military to stay in long-term care homes until September and will launch a large recruiting campaign to train and hire more orderlies on the heels of a report by the Canadian Armed Forces into the challenges facing those facilities.

Premier François Legault said on Wednesday that the 60-page report did “not have a lot of surprises” about the state of nursing homes, known as CHSLDs, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“The situation remains difficult,” he said, noting facilities desperately need more workers.

The report by the military, which was released by the government on Wednesday, outlines three major challenges in Quebec’s long-term care homes: staffing shortages, management of personal protective equipment and how hot zones related to COVID-19 are handled.

Canadian Armed Forces teams were sent to lend a helping hand to the facilities hardest hit by the pandemic following a request for help from Legault. Quebec leads the country in both its caseload and deaths attributable to virus.

READ MORE: Nothing ‘off the table’ in solving long-term care crisis, Trudeau says

The report details the conditions in about 25 long-term care homes in the province, mostly located in Montreal. Col. T.M. Arsenault wrote that the “pressing need” for the facilities, known as CHSLDs, is more medically-trained staff.

This includes a widespread lack of personnel and high absenteeism, which military members said negatively affected patient hygiene.

“It should be noted that several of our members have witnessed and experienced exceptionally difficult situations in CHSLDs,” he added.

Soldiers also noted disappearing medical supplies and residents circulating within homes without protective equipment.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said daily briefing on Wednesday that the report shows “serious issues that deserve to be brought to the attention of Quebec.”

“As I’ve said many times, we need to do a better job caring for seniors,” he said.

READ MORE: Military teams raise concerns about conditions at Ontario care homes

The findings come after the military released a report into five long-term care homes in Ontario, which alleged bleeding infections, residents crying for help for hours and failure to isolate residents who tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The level of care provided was described as “horrible” in documents obtained by Global News.

Trudeau said the Ontario report was “deeply disturbing.” Ontario Premier Doug Ford has called for an investigation into the allegations, which he described as “horrific.”

In Quebec, the province’s ombudsperson announced on Tuesday she is launching her own “impartial and independent” investigation into the government and health network’s handling of the health crisis in long-term care homes and seniors residences.

As the death toll continues to climb, Marie Rinfret said she has concerns over the measures implemented to protect seniors during the pandemic. Her report is due in fall 2021.

As of Sunday, more than 81 per cent of Quebec’s deaths related to COVID-19 had occurred at either long-term care homes or private seniors residences.

Quebec remains the epicentre of the virus’s outbreak in Canada. The province reported 89 additional deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total to 4,228. There are 541 new cases for a total of 49,139.

2:04Quebec heat wave hits long-term care homes

Quebec heat wave hits long-term care homes

— With files from the Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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