To our valued community,

Like you, I have been reading reports in the media that call into question the standards of care in some long term care communities in other jurisdictions in the country.

Over the past few months as our organization has responded to COVID-19, we have taken many additional measures designed to protect residents in our communities while continuing to ensure standards of quality care are being met. One of the most important measures has been to provide additional support and safeguards to our dedicated and compassionate front line teams who prioritize the quality of resident care every day and play a unique role in supporting residents during a time when their loved ones cannot be with them.

Our priority has been to ensure that our front line teams have the resources, equipment and supplies necessary to meet the physical and emotional needs of residents each day. Our leadership teams have met daily throughout the pandemic to assess needs and support our essential front line team members each day.

We do so through a number of standard processes:

Infection Control

  • Our Pandemic Response Team has met regularly since January and daily since March, to lead, oversee and adapt our organizational response to COVID-19 in a rapidly changing environment. This team includes our Infection Prevention and Control Specialist (IPAC), occupational health, asset/facilities management, procurement, clinical practice, human resources, communications and operations leadership.
  • Designated care / cohorting areas were established in every region we operate to ensure each home had access to a dedicated environment equipped to safely care for residents diagnosed with COVID-19 in environments separate from other residents and employees. Full details of our DCA plans have been shared on our website.
  • In addition to required IPAC and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) education when a team member is hired and annually afterwards, education on IPAC protocols including the appropriate use of PPE have been provided continuously throughout the pandemic.

Staffing

  • Our operational leadership reviews staffing levels daily for each home as measured against provincial requirements for staffing levels.
  • During the pandemic, we engaged temporary support workers for each home to provide additional support over and above provincial staffing requirements.
  • Since 2018, we have onboarded more than 240 new team members through our immigration strategy focused on hiring newcomers who are foreign trained nurses into Continuing Care Assistant type positions which are critical roles in providing care in our long-term care homes.
  • Through our immigration strategy, we have developed an ongoing recruitment pathway which typically results in the homes being staffed over and above provincial requirements for a period of time following onboarding of new staff.
  • Physicians and Nurse Practitioners are essential members of our health care teams. They have continued to provide care to our residents without interruption, including through virtual rounds when clinically appropriate to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Standards of Practice / Quality of Care

  • We consider our communities to be our residents’ homes. We work hard to provide care and service in ways that are consistent with this. We post a limited amount of standardized care information in each resident room, easily visible to anyone providing care. This identifies residents’ physical, behavioural, communication and environmental needs along with other pertinent resident information. In addition, all employees in the residents’ circle of care have access to the resident’s electronic health care record.
  • Through our electronic health record, we monitor key health indicators, including the completion of daily care tasks, to ensure that quality care continues to be provided.
  • Regular resident risk meetings are occurring at each site to ensure our comprehensive approach to monitoring resident risks continues.
  • Regular medication reviews have continued to ensure continued appropriate use of medications.
  • We have a robust wound management strategy that includes the monitoring of incidence, prevalence and staging of wounds daily.
  • We have a robust incontinence program that includes regular resident assessment in partnership with our incontinence partner to ensure that residents have the appropriate products and individualized program that respects their dignity.

Supplies

  • Early in March, and throughout the pandemic, we took measures to secure our supply chain for essential items including food, nursing supplies, linens, cleaning and sanitizing products, and PPE. We worked centrally and with each site to secure increased inventory of essential medical and operational supplies.
  • Essential supply inventory was monitored daily at the site level and across the organization

Communication

  • Our residents’ connections to their loved ones are essential. While we know nothing compares with a hug and seeing a loved one face-to-face, we have facilitated these connections through virtual visits and window visits throughout the pandemic.
  • Resident care conferences, a standard part of our care relationship with each resident or their substitute decision maker, have continued virtually at each site and we welcome requests for a special care conference at any time.
  • Through the Pandemic Response Team, all instances of employee and resident symptoms, COVID-19 testing and test results were tracked and monitored daily.
  • Residents and families have been kept up to date on our response and given opportunity to ask questions through regular communication from each site, organizational COVID-19 website, a toll-free information line and IPAC email address.

Appropriate Behaviour

  • All employees are required to complete mandatory training on hire and annually thereafter in the areas of respectful workplace, zero tolerance of resident abuse, infection prevention and control measures, resident and workplace safety, and resident care.
  • Associated policies and appropriate steps are taken to address concerns that arise in any of these areas.

We look forward to welcoming families back to our communities as we know the critical role they play in the lives of their loved ones. Until then, we are here for residents and we are here for you. We also welcome your feedback on our approach to safeguarding resident wellbeing. Please do not hesitate to contact a member of the management team at your location and they will be happy to speak with you.

We are in this together.

Jason Shannon, President and COO