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Ford Government to Move Hospital Patients to Long-Term Care, But Proactive Inspections Still On Hold

Resident Quality Inspections, all but stopped in 2018, are crucial for protecting residents, advocates warn

The Ford government’s More Beds, More Care Actis set to move designated hospital patients to long-term care homes, and charge those who refuse , as early as September 21. But it will not restart annual, unannounced Resident Quality Inspections before the transfers start — even though Doug Ford has been promising to do so for two years.

The Ford government’s new long-term care bill, which will automatically transfer some “alternate level of care” hospital patients to long-term care homes, in some cases notorious private ones, has proven enormously controversial.

In particular, advocates for the elderly warn that those patients who refuse to move could be forced to pay a fee of $400 per day, and that many of the private homes, in particular, are not safe.

“It is really unheard of that we would see outbreaks to this extent in long-term care homes in the middle of summer, where at one point 30% of long-term care homes in outbreak across the province,” Palliative care physician Dr. Amit Arya said.

The homes, Dr. Arya said, “are chronically understaffed and when there are outbreaks, the staffing becomes worse as people are off and need to isolate. That worsens patient neglect and burnout.”

Ontario Health Coalition Executive Director Natalie Mehra noted, the Ministry of Long-Term Care has not reinstated annual, unannounced Resident Quality Inspections (RQI) the Ford government scaled down significantly in 2018.

“Going into the homes and asking residents if they feel safe is how you find out about abuse,” Mehra said. “It’s how you can tell if the resident is declining, or losing weight or have bruises or that they’re staring up at the ceiling because no one has positioned them to even watch TV. If inspectors don’t go into the home, they don’t see that.”

RQIs are “proactive inspections” that provide “an objective review of the whole operation of the long-term care home, ” the 2018 Long Term Care Homes Public Inquiry notes.  RQIs uncovered cases of neglect, abuse and poor sanitation among other things — in contrast to “critical incident inspections” which follow specific complaints.

Critical Incident Inspections, Mehra said, differ crucially as they “are not an inspection of the whole home.”

While, in Summer 2020, Premier Ford promised “We are going to do surprise inspections right across the province, so my message to all long term care homes is to get your act together” that did not materialize.

As CBC News reports, the inspections were “all but stopped” in 2018 until former Minister Rod Phillips promised to relaunch them by the end of 2022.

“They want to force people out of hospital or make them pay $400 per day to go to the worst homes that no one wants to go to — for a good reason,” Mehra said.

Asked if there were plans to expedite the RQI process, Ontario’s Ministry of Long-term care did not respond.

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Mitchell Thompson
Mitchell Thompson is PressProgress’ Ontario reporter. His reporting has a special focus on workers and communities, and public services and privatization, and public accountability.

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