In a progress report on her investigation into the first wave of COVID-19 in CHSLDs, the Protectrice du citoyen offers five main recommendations.
“Many witnesses to the crisis have described to the Québec Ombudsman health care environments that are disorganized and at the end of their rope, despite the immense dedication of the staff,” writes Marie Rinfret.
The Ombudsperson’s findings join several observations already noted by the media and the Legault government since the start of the pandemic.
Thus, she underlines the significant impact that the ban on visiting caregivers in CHSLDs had during the first wave. “The sidelining of caregivers has dealt a severe blow to the mental and physical health of those accommodated,” she notes in her progress report.
“As a priority for action, the responsible authorities must put in place the necessary training and supervision so that caregivers working in all types of living environments can play their role as partners in the provision of human care. and personalized, in an outbreak situation as in normal times, ”she writes.
Likewise, staff disorganization and staff mobility have also contributed to the spread of the virus.
Marie Rinfret therefore proposes to “ensure the stability of the workforce and the presence of sufficient staff in the CHSLDs”, as well as “to continue the establishment, in each CHSLD, of a local manager” .
Quebec should also “implement in CHSLDs a rigorous culture in terms of infection prevention and control” and “strengthen communication channels, both locally, regionally and nationally,” she notes.
Moreover, several shortcomings are raised by the progress report. “As part of the call for testimonies, 48% of health workers reported lacking protective equipment, mainly due to the shortage,” writes the Protector.
In addition, the threat posed by COVID-19 has been “significantly underestimated by the authorities,” she said.
As for decision-making power, it was “far from the field”, deplores Ms. Rinfret. “The many problems in the most affected CHSLDs should have been taken care of by local management methods, in other words by people exerting strong leadership in the field of outbreaks and staff shortages. Receiving instructions “from above” or waiting for instructions that simply did not come has greatly weakened the decision chain, “she writes.
Ms. Rinfret also underlines that the personnel of the health network were seriously affected by the virus: “between March 1 and June 14, 2020, 13,581 health workers were affected by COVID-19, ie 25% of cases reported during the first wave. Eleven died of it, ”she says.