Privatization the pre-existing condition killing seniors in long-term care

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A blind 94-year-old Chilliwack, B.C., woman is left confined for two weeks while bed bugs multiply on her mattress.
A 79-year-old woman in Viking, Alberta, dies of dehydration and a urinary tract infection caused by remaining too long in unchanged wet diapers.
A 63-year-old Brampton, Ontario, man is provided so little food and water that he has to be hospitalized for dehydration.
A 94-year-old woman in Dorval, Quebec, who has both Alzheimer’s and dysphagia dies from choking on her food. No written incident report is filed by the home where she resides.

If you presumed that these incidents relate to long-term care homes being overwhelmed by the current coronavirus crisis, you can be forgiven. The absolute horror stories emerging from Canada’s long-term care facilities have focused our attention as never before on the vulnerability of the residents that rely on these institutions.
But every one of these incidents came from media reports that predate the pandemic. They reflect Canada’s system of care for the elderly and people with disabilities in “normal” times, not times of crisis. In worsening this system’s failures, the coronavirus crisis is opening our eyes to realities that far too many Canadian families have long known all too well.

In his response to the gut-wrenching revelations that recently emerged at a Dorval nursing home (the same one where the woman choked on her food), Quebec premier François Legault stated that the situation “looks a lot like major negligence.”

The negligence Legault referred to was that of the privately owned company that ran this home. 

While our politicians can claim to be saddened over the tragedy that is now unfolding in long-term care homes around the country, none should claim to be surprised at this situation. Unions and organizations that advocate for the various people that depend on long-term care have for years decried the worsening conditions of these facilities. Many have also been extremely clear about the central reason for these worsening conditions — privatization.

Indeed, every one of the examples mentioned at the beginning of this article occurred at one of Canada’s privately owned for-profit facilities. While the number of for-profit care homes varies from province to province, such facilities house 37 per cent of Canada’s long-term beds.

The connection between private ownership and diminished standards of care has been documented in numerous studies and reports. One recent study from the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Medicine found that for-profit facilities not only provided “inferior” care but also were more likely to have been cited for serious deficiencies than facilities making less profit.

To read more, click on: Privatization the pre-existing condition killing seniors in long-term care