RNAO’s media conference to address the crisis in long-term care resonates widely
We were thrilled to host a media conference today Friday, alongside Sinai Health System geriatrician and powerful advocate Dr. Nathan Stall. This virtual event was crucial in our ongoing efforts to raise red flags and push for action that we hope will stop an evolving disaster in long-term care (LTC) homes similar to the one we saw during the first wave of COVID-19.
In no uncertain terms, we are calling on government to ACT NOW on four key asks:
Dr. Stall stated today that he sees our current situation in LTC as “our provincial shame.” We at RNAO agree wholeheartedly. I, too, feel ashamed as a health professional, on behalf of all my nursing colleagues who have put their knowledge, hearts and souls into efforts to beat this terrible virus. We have not succeeded in moving the needle where it should be during this second wave, and those suffering the most are the vulnerable residents in LTC homes, their loved ones and staff.
We had 132 people joining our media conference today, including journalists from 15 media outlets, government officials, families of loved ones in nursing homes, frontline nurses and personal support workers, researchers and epidemiologists watching the trends and warning of what’s to come. Dr. Stall and his team are collecting statistics daily in an effort to keep the numbers under a microscope. His analysis shows that RNAO is correct in its repeated warnings that we are headed for disaster, if the government does not act immediately.
We saw the devastating impact of COVID-19 on LTC residents during the first wave. We watched the death curve go up between the end of March and May. And we are once again watching the curve trend upward. Between Sept. 1 and Nov. 11 we have gone from zero deaths in LTC to more than 200 residents taken by the virus. Many of these could have been prevented with adequate staffing and de-crowding of nursing homes. There’s absolutely no excuse for this to happen.
As Dr. Stall so pertinently pointed out today, we can’t just focus on stats in the hospital sector to evaluate how we’re doing in our response to this second wave of COVID-19. We must talk about LTC. There are currently almost 700 active resident cases in LTC. 435 staff are currently infected.
Most concerning, since the second wave began this fall, 2,100 residents and 1,500 staff have tested positive for COVID-19. Already in this second wave, 68% of COVID-related deaths are residents in nursing homes. Ninety-four nursing homes are in outbreak right now. Given the escalating numbers, we can expect a lot more tragedy and preventable loss of life in LTC, unless government takes immediate action. More must be done now, Dr. Stall and I urged.
Although we have seen some improvements in access to PPE, testing, and the important inclusion of essential care partners since the first wave, we have seen no action whatsoever on staffing. We have heard promises of four worked hours of care, but these are empty promises because there have been no directives to hire more staff in this sector, or more importantly, to channel the required funding for this to happen. One reporter at today’s media conference (Chelsea Nash of Rabble.ca) asked how the announcement to hire resident support aides (RSA) (made in early November) will help during this emergency. I was direct and honest in my answer: we will not support Band-Aid solutions to this problem. A person trained for a few days, with all due respect, can never provide what a PSW, RPN, RN and NP can provide. I would rather have an essential care partner take on that role than someone who has been displaced from the hospitality sector and receives almost no training in working with older persons. Of course displaced workers – all of them! – need support, but not in this form where they will endanger residents, themselves and potentially their own families. Essential care partners know much more about what their loved ones need than someone who will only receive a few days of training to care for our most vulnerable.
The lack of political will and courage is a major barrier we must address at this crucial stage of the pandemic. But another equally troubling barrier is the bias and discrimination we are seeing towards vulnerable populations, such as LTC residents, people experiencing homelessness and Indigenous communities. We talked today about structural ageism and the complacency we are seeing with the ongoing loss of life due to COVID-19. It seems that many people have become numb to the tragic numbers, as if it’s just numbers we’re talking about – not the lives of people leaving behind traumatized loved ones and staff.
Today, we thanked the media and urged them to keep this issue front-and-centre. I also took the opportunity to thank the media for continuing to approach RNAO for comment and perspective. Each and every media outlet must keep talking about the implications of doing too little, too late while people die and the healthcare system becomes overwhelmed. They must continue to remind us these are not just numbers – they are human beings, our cherished parents, grandparents, and friends. We must all raise our voices both in our personal and professional roles. Our collective efforts will force the change we need for the most vulnerable among us.
Please take some time to watch the media conference online here. You will find the press coverage of our media conference in the RNAO COVID-19 press room (the items will be posted on Monday). We also urge you to watch RNAO’s Nov. 9 Cross Country Meeting: Mobilizing Collective Action for Long-Term Care Reform in Canada. We will continue this important conversation at our next COVID-19 webinar on Nov. 14 (see details next).
Continuing the conversation: Mobilizing collective action for long-term care reform in Canada
Everyone is invited to attend including anyone across Canada who cares about seniors and wants to join forces to inspire our provincial, territorial and the federal governments to establish national standards for LTC and to take additional action to support people staying in their homes longer.
Other upcoming webinars and events for November – Open to all
The next webinar in the series will be on Monday, November 16, 6:45-8:15 pm. The topic will be Becoming an Ally of the Black Nursing Community.
Our monthly webinar series is open to RNs, NPs and RPNs interested in receiving updates on RNAO’s Black Nurses Task Force and to engage in meaningful conversations that are already influencing the work of the Task Force.
The presentations and details for this and earlier webinars can also be found here.
Landscape and Emerging Issues with E- Cigarettes: Webinar Series
This three-part webinar is in partnership with the RNAO, Community Health Nurses’ Initiatives group (CHNIG) and Community Health Nurses of Canada (CHNC).
NPs who are members of RNAO are invited at no cost to our NP Knowledge Exchange Virtual Symposium on Monday, November 23, 9 am to 4 pm.
Explore the theme “Moving from Strength to Greater Strength: NPs in Ontario, Canada, and around the Globe” at our seventh-annual NP Knowledge Exchange Symposium.
We will have a chance to network, collaborate and learn more about the NP Task Force and its compelling history, progress and promise to drive successful health transformation. In addition, we will discuss how the clinical, policy and governance roles of NPs during COVID-19 impacted the system and can be leveraged in the vision for tomorrow.
Speakers include Dr. Barbara Stilwell, executive director of Nursing Now; Helen Angus, Ontario’s deputy ministers of health and many more fantastic speakers. Co-chairs for the day are NPIG Chair Sally Baerg and RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun.
This event is open at no cost to all NPs in Ontario who are RNAO members.
Register online today to secure your spot.
MOH EOC Situational Report
We are posting each day the Daily Situational Reports from Ontario's MOH EOC at RNAO’s website. That way, you can access the Ministry’s guidance at any time.
For a more detailed Ontario epidemiological summary from Public Health Ontario, you can always go here.
Here is a segment from the latest Situation Report #293 for 13 November:
Staying in touch
Please continue to keep in touch and share questions, comments and challenges. Send these to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and copy my executive assistant, Peta-Gay (PG) Batten <email@example.com>. RNAO’s Board of Directors and our entire staff want you to know: WE ARE HERE FOR YOU!
Thank you all for being there for our communities – everywhere and in all roles! Together, in solidarity, we are stronger and more resilient. These will continue to be tough times for a while for everyone and most especially our colleagues working in the front lines here at home and in countries around the world hit hard by evil COVID-19!
As we have said before, the silver lining of COVID-19: Coming together and working as one people – for the good of all!
Doris Grinspun, RN,MSN, PhD, LLD(hon), Dr(hc), FAAN, O.ONT
RECENT BLOG ITEMS:
6 Nov - Fall 2020 provincial budget once again leaves vulnerable populations to fend for themselves – go here
– go here
30 Oct - 2S-LGBTQ+ Seniors: Our Existence is Our Resistance! – go here
23 Oct - Responding to the second wave of COVID-19: RNAO continues to speak out – go here
16 Oct - RNAO advocates for national long-term care standards in Canada – go here
16 Oct - Reta’s Story (a contribution of Judy Smith, Reta’s daughter-in-law) – go here
9 Oct - RNAO relieved that Premier Ford engages late, but essential, action – go here
9 Oct - Patient-centred-care – the dream and the reality – go here
2 Oct - RNAO urges stricter measures to combat rapidly rising number of COVID-19 infections – go here
25 Sept - Nurses say throne speech advances A Just Recovery for All – go here
18 Sept - Is Your Hospital Using Blood Wisely? – go here
18 Sept - RNAO calls to Delay Action on CNO Council Decision to Expand RPN Scope – go here
11 Sept - International Overdose Awareness Day: Statement from RNAO – go here
11 Sept - RNAO joins global movement: A Just Recovery for All – go here
28 August - RNAO letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding Speech from the Throne – go here
21 August - Black August and an update on RNAO’s Anti-Black Nursing Task Force – go here
21 August - Winter Surge Planning: How one Ontario Health Team is Preparing – go here
14 August - Insights from Cuba: Primary care as the focus of COVID-19 prevention – go here
7 August - School reopening: Ontario government can still do the right thing on class sizes – go here
31 July - Preparing for the second wave of COVID-19: Discussion – go here
31 July - Important announcement regarding the VIANurse program – go here
31 July - Government must immediately mandate hiring to avert second tragedy in LTC – go here
24 July - Preparing for the second wave of COVID-19: What is the plan? – go here
17 July - RNAO launches new social media campaign #Maskathon – go here
17 July - RNAO calls on government to reunite families in LTC homes in Ontario – go here
10 July - Nurses’ mental health, leave of absence and return to work experiences – go here
10 July - RNAO continues to pursue family reunification in LTC – go here
10 July - Support Zimbabwean nurses arrested and fired for protesting deteriorating pay and working conditions during pandemic – go here
3 July - RNAO launches task force to tackle anti-Black racism within the nursing profession – go here
3 July - Rather than praise, let’s protect our nurses – go here
3 July - Nurses celebrated diversity during Pride month – go here
26 June - Nursing Home Basic Care Guarantee – go here
26 June - Masks for all – the policy imperative in Canada – go here
18 June - Annual General Meeting – an exhilarating week! – go here
12 June - Petition on masks for Canada – go here
12 June - LTC: RNAO releases list of 35 reports and recommendations dating back 20 years – go here
6 June - Statement – RNAO stands together with our Black sisters and brothers – go here
3 June - Adapting harm reduction during a pandemic – go here
We have posted earlier ones in my blog here. I invite you to take a look.
Ontario’s public website on the COVID-19 is there to inform the general public – encourage your family and friends to access this public website. The WHO has provided an excellent link for you to share with members of the public here.
Please promote the use of Ontario’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool: It also has a guide where to seek care, if necessary. Its use will provide the province with real-time data on the number and geography of users who are told to seek care, self-isolate or to monitor for symptoms. Data will inform Ontario's ongoing response to keep individuals and families safe.
Health Canada's website provides the best information capturing all of Canada. It contains an outbreak update, Canada's response to the virus, travel advice, symptoms and treatment, and resources for health professionals.
You can find up-to-date global numbers in Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE.
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