Stories of the severe impact that COVID-19 has had on people living in long-term care and retirement homes and their families have been flooding our news feeds. And for good reason. The pandemic hit the sector in Canada hard, with devastating effects in some homes, particularly in long-term care. Eight in 10 COVID-19 related deaths have been in long-term care, double the OECD average.1
By July 7, 2020, there were more than 18,000 cases and 6,851 deaths among residents of long-term care and retirement homes in Canada, as well as almost 10,000 cases and 16 deaths among staff.
Yet within this stark reality, we have seen some long-term care and retirement homes respond to the challenge of the pandemic in resourceful ways.
To gather the first-hand experiences of and learning from COVID-19, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement published a national report:
Reimagining Care for Older Adults: Next Steps in COVID-19 Response in Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes. It's based on more than 40 interviews with family partners in care, healthcare leaders and policy makers across the nation, from late May to early June 2020.
Included in the report are steps that can be taken now – with the support of a new learning program – to help the settings that provide care for older adults be better prepared for future waves of the pandemic, potentially coinciding with seasonal influenza this fall.
Promising Practices: the 6 P's
The steps arise from 'promising practices' in six key areas, outlined in the report, and now also the basis of the program we have launched to support the sector.
The promising practices – the 6 P's – which have the potential to help organizations prepare for future outbreaks or mitigate their effects are: 1) Preparation, 2) Prevention, 3) People in the workforce, 4) Pandemic response and surge capacity, 5) Planning for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 care, and 6) Presence of family.
LTC+ Acting on Pandemic Learning Together program
LTC+: Acting on Pandemic Learning Together program is helping Canada's 5800 long-term care and retirement homes to learn from each other. We are supporting long-term care and retirement homes whether they have experienced a COVID-19 outbreak or didn't but want to be prepared for future outbreaks. It gives staff, managers, policy makers, family and caregiver partners and others – who are all working hard to manage tough situations now, while also trying to look and plan ahead – a Self-Assessment tool, coaching and opportunities to learn collaboratively.
The program is flexible, supporting homes to quickly implement changes through a menu of virtual offerings, including:
Webinars: An open-invitation, virtual webinar series, led by subject matter experts brings people in the long-term care and retirement home sector together from across the country to learn from others tackling similar challenges during COVID-19.
National Huddles: After registering for the LTC+ program, teams can sign up for bi-weekly national huddles led by long-term care experts to discuss issues related to safe and effective care during COVID-19, and practical solutions that can be implemented now.
Self-Assessment: A Self-Assessment tool will help determine their level of preparedness for future waves of COVID-19, see where they need to improve, and identify specific improvement objectives.
Coaching & Seed Funding: After identifying their improvement goals, teams can apply to receive coaching and potential seed funding of up to $5,000 to support the implementation of promising practices in their homes.
In addition, a virtual policy lab to focus on family presence policy in long-term care is being scoped to take place in the late fall.
As the long-term care and retirement sector focuses on preparedness for the fall, CFHI and CPSI are working together with BC Patient Safety and Quality Council and others, to help ensure our efforts continue to be aligned with what support is needed across the country.
1 Canadian Institute for Health Information. Pandemic Experience in the Long-Term Care Sector: How Does Canada Compare With Other Countries?. Ottawa, ON: CIHI; 2020; accessed on June 25, 2020: https://www.cihi.ca/sites/default/files/document/covid-19-rapid-response-long-term-care-snapshot-en.pdf