Sunday, May 10, 2020

Maybe it's (much) safer in a publicly-owned long-term care home

This is something I had been wondering about - given that long-term care homes have been the nexus for the vast majority (82%!) of deaths from COVID-19 in Ontario and in the rest of Canada, how is the death rate split between for-profit, not-for-profit and publicly-owned municipal care homes?
Ontario's care homes - and, I assume, those in the rest of Canada and most other countries too - are split between private and public facilities, and between for-profit and not-for-profit models, in an unregulated patchwork of systems. Luckily, somebody (namely, the Ontario Health Coalition) has done the leg-work in comparing the different models and their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The results are partly predictable and partly quite unexpected.
The death rate (number of deaths as a proportion of the total number of beds in facilities where at least one death has been reported) is MUCH worse in private for-profit care homes - 9%, compared to 5.25% in not-for-profits, and 3.62% in public municipal homes. Furthermore, the number of deaths is increasing faster in for-profit homes (followed, in the same way, by not-for-profit homes, and then publicly-owned homes).
These figures are quite stark. Although for-profit care homes might be "nicer" and have more facilities, it seems that, when the proverbial shit hits the fan, you might be better off in a public facility than a private one. It's not clear to me whether this is because their systems are better, or whether the staff in public homes are more dedicated. But it's certainly something I will remember when we eventually come to be looking for long-term care.
This study has also brought into sharp relief NDP leader Jagmeet Singh's push to bring all long-term care homes into public ownership, and to federally regulate them (there is currently no standardized system in Canada).

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