Staffing, protective equipment still a challenge in Quebec long-term care homes, military report says

A report prepared by the Canadian military about Quebec’s long-term care homes says the division between “hot” and “cold” zones, proper use of protective equipment and staffing shortages remain major challenges in the facilities.

The report was shared with the Quebec government Tuesday night and made public this morning.

It provides an account of the conditions in 25 homes where members of the military have been assisting during the pandemic. 

In many cases, the military describes how equipment and staffing was inadequate when they arrived but it has since improved.

At the Centre d’hébergement Saint-Laurent in Montreal, for example, the report notes some staff weren’t properly using protective equipment and were moving between “hot” zones, for those who have tested positive, and “cold” zones, which are supposed to be COVID-free. 

Narcotic medications gone

The report said it helped train staff to improve the situation.

At Vigi Mont-Royal, the report notes a shipment of narcotic medications appeared to have disappeared, and supply of them in the care units was lacking.

“A lack of medical equipment is often noted during shift changes, and the soldiers had to intervene several times to offer solutions to allow the nursing staff to do their work safely,” the report says.

Problems in the province’s long-term care homes have been well documented.

Workers on the front lines have already described chaos inside the homes, including a lack of protective equipment for staff and residents who had not yet caught the disease.

Hundreds of troops deployed

More than 60 per cent of deaths related to COVID-19 in the province have occurred in long-term care homes, known by their French acronym CHSLDs.

Hundreds of troops — more than 1,675 — have been deployed to long-term care homes in Quebec and Ontario to help with residents’ day-to-day needs, cleaning the facilities and meal distribution.

Soldiers first arrived in Quebec in mid-April. 

The Canadian military released a separate report Tuesday detailing allegations of elder abuse in five Ontario long-term care homes, describing residents being bullied, improperly fed and in some cases left for hours or even days in soiled bedding.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford described the report as “gut-wrenching.”

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