With long-term care facilities in Québec being severely affected by COVID-19, the Québec Ombudsman is very concerned about the situation of the elderly in many residences and is worried about the measures to ensure their safety and well-being. The proliferation of deaths and sites of contamination have brought alarming findings into focus concerning the ability of residences to deal with pandemics when even basic care is not always a guarantee.

The current crisis is happening in living environments that were vulnerable to begin with and where there were known problems that were often criticized by the Québec Ombudsman,” stated Ombudsman Marie Rinfret. “These include a glaring shortage of staff, difficult work conditions because of this shortage, a high turnover rate for care attendants, and insufficient oversight of private residences by the public network,” she added.

Improving senior care and services
The purpose of the Québec Ombudsman’s systemic investigation is to shed light on the government’s and the health network’s response to the COVID-19 crisis in residences for seniors. The investigation will make it possible to identify:

  • The required improvements in residences for seniors based on the events of the crisis and known pre-pandemic shortcomings;
  • The measures to put in place to better handle future pandemics or any other similar crisis.

A progress report as of next autumn

The investigation by the Québec Ombudsman should be completed by autumn 2021. In the meantime, with a view to taking action quickly, there will be a progress report in autumn 2020.

“Québec must always provide services that meet seniors’ needs. It is also obliged to be better equipped to deal with possible crises as severe as the one we are living through now in order to protect the rights of the citizens who built Québec and who continue to be part of what it is becoming and will become,” Rinfret said.