Quebec government abandons the idea of nationalizing all private long-term care facilities

Quebec is abandoning the idea of nationalizing all private long-term care facilities (CHSLDs).

Premier Francois Legault often mentioned the idea during the pandemic, particularly following the disastrous situation at the CHSLD Herron.On Friday in Magog, in Quebec's Eastern Townships, while making an announcement on sports infrastructures, the premier said that he does not intend to repair what works, as the expression goes.

"I think it's a case-by-case basis because there are private long-term care facilities that are providing excellent services, and there are long-term care facilities that are not providing good services," said Legault. "Either they improve their service or we look at the possibility of nationalizing them."

The premier said he wanted to stay away from a wall-to-wall approach.

"I am not dogmatic," he said. "There are parties that I will not name for whom the private sector is not to be touched. I come from the private sector, and there are private CHSLDs that do a good job. The important thing is that the CISSS and CIUSSS properly supervise the services provided by both private and public CHSLDs. It is their responsibility, but it will be on a case-by-case basis."

ABUSE

However, nationalizing a CHSLD does not guarantee better quality.

Highlighting this fact, Legault was previously called upon to react to the Québec ombudsman's report, which revealed serious shortcomings, in some cases amounting to mistreatment, in the public CHSLDs under the leadership of the CIUSSS de l'Estrie.

The report, which is dated March 17 but was made public Thursday by the ombudsman, does not identify any particular CHSLD, although it does mention surprise visits to three of these establishments, which are no longer identified.

The report refers to all 24 public CHSLDs of the CIUSSS de l'Estrie, without making any distinction between them.

The report mentions, among other things, a lack of assistance to users for hydration or feeding, a lack of response to calls for help to go to the bathroom and even practices of isolation.

'TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE'

"I have read the report," said Legault. "It is totally unacceptable. CIUSSS has been contacted. I want to know first of all -- because I want them to be accountable, the CIUSSS executives -- how it is that this happened and that there are consequences."

Legault said he has been assured by CIUSSS "that there is an action plan to address all the problems that are in the report," but that is not enough for him.

Legault was particularly upset that such events are occurring "after everything we have been through in the last two years."

He said that the problem is "first and foremost a question of management: we cannot tolerate that a CIUSSS tolerates this kind of situation in CHSLDs," and he did not rule out the possibility of requesting an inquiry if necessary.

In its report, the ombudsman pointed out that the situation in the CHSLDs has been aggravated by a severe staff shortage and that the CIUSSS has to develop contingency plans "to avoid a break in service in certain CHSLDs".

The ombudsman noted that this situation has led to the exhaustion and distress of staff and managers, the majority of whom mentioned that the care and services offered in the CIUSSS CHSLDs were no longer aimed at respecting good quality practices. According to them, the care teams now only seek to ensure a minimal level of security and supervision of the people in their homes.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 6, 2022. 

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