NPAO Statement on the Final Report of Ontario’s COVID19 Long Term Care Commission
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The Government of Ontario’s Long-Term Care Commission (LTCC) released the report of its findings on Friday, April 30. The LTCC was commissioned to investigate how and why COVID-19 spread in long-term care homes (LTCH), what was done to prevent it, the impact on key elements of the existing system on the spread of the disease, and to make recommendations to prevent future outbreaks in LTCH.
The report is very comprehensive and makes 85 recommendations to the government on a wide range of issues including funding, accountability and transparency, pandemic planning, improving resident care, integration of LTC into the health care system, and staffing.
Staffing was a particular emphasis of the report and how neglect in this area for decades was a prominent factor in the devastation the pandemic wrought on the long-term care sector.
NPAO did have the opportunity to present to the LTCC together with Dr. Katherine McGilton, who highlighted her study of NPs in LTC during the pandemic, as well as Carrie Heer from the Provincial Nurse-Led Outreach Teams, both of which were referenced in the report. Key points on the value of NPs in LTCH which were included in the report from our presentation include:
- LTCH with NPs were able to manage the pandemic better due to the special clinical skillset NPs provided;
- the current NP ratio of 0.6% of professional LTC staff is woefully inadequate;
- NPs helped contain the spread of COVID in LTCH by providing training and coaching to staff on the appropriate use of PPE;
- NPs independently provided critical care to critically ill residents;
- NPs were the conduit between residents and their families; and
- By acting as a critical link with different healthcare providers NPs were able to facilitate communication and collaboration with other health care providers to benefit residents.
NPAO is pleased the report specifically states that “Nurse Practitioners are underutilized in long-term care” and recommends a minimum of one full-time NP for every 120 LTC residents, a ratio similar to the one advocated for by NPAO.
It remains to be seen what steps the government will take to increase the use of NPs in LTCH. NPAO will work with the Ministry of Long-Term Care to develop solutions to realize the value of NPs in this critical sector.