“It painted a picture of organizational chaos, of a disaster in infection prevention and control and ultimately of loss of life,” Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge, a national seniors’ advocacy group, told Global News.
The report shows a failed system and confusing pandemic planning guides. It found that staff were left short-handed and scrambling to try to keep up, residents were sick and in need of more attention and untrained workers were hired and run off their feet.
As staff became infected with the virus, they were forced to self-isolate, which put further strain on the remaining workers and staffing hit critical levels.
Within 10 days of declaring an outbreak, those shortages were affecting the home’s ability to care for residents, the report said.
But pandemic plans didn’t ramp up accordingly.
The report found provincial long-term care guidelines were “confusing, unwieldy” planning documents that had multiple pages and several versions, which made it difficult to know which to follow and which took precedence over others.
“Government needed to be much more clear and work with its health authorities to create a provincial response and this report showed very clearly there was no provincial response,” Tamblyn Watts said.
Revera, the company that owns Maples, brought in general labourers to support staff “and assist with companionship, PPE (personal protective equipment) auditing, supply management, and nutrition and hydration for residents without swallowing issues.”
“These general laborers were not skilled to provide resident care,” the report stated. “Resident Care Managers were assigned to support resident care, but as they became ill this was not a viable strategy.”
Revera contacted 36 staffing agencies on Oct. 24, 2020 to try to bring in more workers. Two days later a letter was sent to Robertson College with an offer to pay practicum students and multiple requests for help were sent out over the following days to the province and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
“We saw infection prevention and control failures, we saw a lack of staff backup for core roles such as scheduling,” Tamblyn Watts said. “The whole thing became a house of cards and there is blame at every level.”
The report made 17 different recommendations, six of which are specific to Maples.
Health Minister Heather Stefanson said her government plans to fulfill each and every recommendation but couldn’t provide a timeline or the cost associated.
Stefanson said she has assigned a team 30 days to come up with an implementation plan.