Toronto Mayor John Tory today released a report by City of Toronto staff from the Seniors Services and Long-Term Care division that outlines the response by staff prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, its actions during the pandemic, and recommendations on how best to adapt the City’s 10 long-term care homes post-COVID-19.
The City of Toronto does not regulate or license long-term care homes – that is the purview of the Province of Ontario, through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. All operators whether municipal homes, private companies or non-profits, receive the same provincial funding, charge the same accommodation rates, and must adhere to the same compliance and regulatory standards through the Long-Term Care Homes Act.
The City took early action prior to the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic to ensure a safe and secure environment for the more than 2,600 residents in its long-term care homes. In an attempt to stop the virus from entering its homes, the City introduced enhanced active screening early, including taking and recording temperatures of all staff entering a City home. Masking protocols were enforced, and all non-essential visits were suspended. Enhanced infection, prevention and control practices and procedures, including staff education, high-touch cleaning and disinfection, were all done to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Despite best efforts, the virus has been extremely difficult to contain. Mitigation efforts were enacted, including active surveillance and precautions, isolation, physical distancing, meals served on trays rather than in dining rooms, and use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, isolation gowns, gloves and eye protection when caring for residents, testing residents and testing staff.
Moving forward, City long-term care homes will include extra health and safety measures, based on guidance from Toronto Public Heath, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and Ontario Health, that include:
Staff have made 16 recommendations in their report based on experience and learning from sustained outbreaks in some of its homes, to no resident outbreaks in one home. The full COVID-19 Pandemic in the City of Toronto Long-Term Care Homes report can be found online.
At one point during the pandemic, all City long-term care homes reported residents and/or staff with the virus. Today, 11 residents in three City homes are positive for COVID-19.
To all those who have lost a loved one due to COVID-19, the City of Toronto extends its deepest condolences. Staff in the City’s Seniors Services and Long-Term Care division share in the deep sense of loss and are committed to doing everything possible to fight this virus now and to improve outcomes for residents in long-term care homes in the future.
“The older people in our community deserve to live with respect and dignity. The City’s dedicated long-term care staff are committed to their residents and continuously improving living conditions. Through this report, my colleagues on Council and I can oversee the implementation of systemic changes to address challenging areas in our long-term care homes to make them safer and more responsive to the needs of residents.”
– Mayor John Tory
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