Daughter on edge after COVID outbreak at long-term care facility where mother lives

·3 min read
The sign for the Carleton Lodge long-term care home is seen in Ottawa on Jan. 13, 2022. (Francis Ferland/CBC - image credit)
The sign for the Carleton Lodge long-term care home is seen in Ottawa on Jan. 13, 2022. (Francis Ferland/CBC - image credit)

Judy Beattie can't stop thinking about last month. She visited her 87-year old mom, who has Alzheimer's and dementia, at a long-term care home in Ottawa and found her covered in dried feces.

"Nobody was present," she recalled to CBC. "Obviously, mom is not being checked for many, many hours based on the dried feces. I said this is unacceptable, absolutely unacceptable practices."

Beattie said she filed a complaint to Carleton Lodge, a city-owned facility.

But now she fears it could happen again, after 20 residents and nine staff at Carleton Lodge tested positive for COVID-19.

Francis Ferland/CBC
Francis Ferland/CBC

Beattie worries the outbreak could trigger further staffing shortages that might impact her mom's care.

"I was just appalled at the lack of care and the lack of staffing," she said. "There isn't enough staff and it's our residents that are at risk.

"Our long-term care home residents seem to be forgotten."

34 outbreaks in long-term care and retirement homes

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Jacqueline Roy, Ottawa's administrator for long-term care, said the home is able to "maintain staffing levels and has additional measures in place to ensure the appropriate number of staff are able to provide care and services to residents, if the number of positive staff increases."

Roy also said staff working in city-run long-term care homes are required to have gotten two doses of COVID-19 vaccine and over 90 per cent of those staff have received their third dose.

Staff continue to be strongly encouraged to receive boosters they are eligible for, she said.

Carleton Lodge has 270 staff members and is home to 161 residents.

There are currently 63 active COVID outbreaks in Ottawa with 34 of those in long-term care and retirement homes.

This number has more than quadrupled since the start of July.

Staffing crisis prior to the pandemic 

"We have a health human resources crisis in pretty much all settings: hospitals, community care, long-term care," said Sam Peck, executive director at Family Councils Ontario, a charitable non-profit funded by the Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care.

CBC News
CBC News

"So what that means is there are less people to care for residents," she said. "And that could be activities of daily living. So toileting, cleaning.… It could be assistance at meal times, which also has a real impact on resident health and well-being."

Peck said the staffing shortages pre-date the pandemic, citing underpaid staff and fewer physicians wanting to practise geriatrics.

"There's a lot of burnout because of the physically demanding work, never mind the emotional impact of caring for someone day in and day out."

She said a solution to the "staffing crisis" would be proper funding for full-time workers.

"So that people don't have to work on multiple sites, because that was also an issue in the beginning of the pandemic, where those who might be working at multiple locations to make ends meet could no longer do that. And that exacerbated the staffing shortages," she said.

"Good pay, good benefits. Looking at all of that to contribute to a more humane approach to care."

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