Progress Report on the COVID-19 crisis in CHSLDs — Learning from the first wave and kicking into action mode

  • December 10, 2020

Québec City, December 10, 2020 – Today Québec Ombudsperson Marie Rinfret released her Progress Report on the government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis in public and private CHSLDs during the first wave of the pandemic. The report is part of its impartial and independent investigation that will wrap up in the fall of 2021. Entitled Learning from the crisis and moving to uphold the rights and dignity of CHSLD residents, the Progress Report gives the floor to firsthand witnesses—CHSLD staff, informal caregivers, and residents.

"Based on the findings from the witness statements that came out of our investigation, and from the complaints and reports we received from the beginning of the pandemic, we can already identify lessons to be learned from the first wave that hit CHSLDs. We can immediately pin down priorities for action in order to ensure that the care and services that CHSLD residents receive is a worthy response to their needs," said Marie Rinfret.

Act now

Numerous witnesses to the crisis described a disorganized, exhausted system despite the immense dedication of healthcare workers.

In its Progress Report, the Protecteur du citoyen defines five priorities for action which would make CHSLDs living environments that measure up to their mission to provide continuous care that respects the rights and dignity of the residents:

  1. Focus CHSLD care and services on the needs of residents in order to respect their rights and dignity, and acknowledge the role of informal caregivers;
  2. Ensure a stable workforce in CHSLDs and sufficient numbers of staff;
  3. Continue to deploy to each CHSLD a local manager who can exercise strong local leadership;
  4. Establish a rigorous culture of infection prevention and control within CHSLDs that is known by all;
  5. Strengthen local, regional and Québec-wide communication channels in order to convey clear information and directives and facilitate sharing of best practices. 

The stark reality

Wanting its Progress Report to document what really occurred in the trenches, the Protecteur du citoyen based the document on:

  • The observations of the 1,355 people who responded to its call for witness statements and input;
  • Sixteen briefs from unions, research groups, not-for-profit organizations, and users’ committees;
  • Approximately 250 interviews with residents, family members, CHSLD staff, and CISSS and CIUSSS managers;
  • The complaints and reports it received and and those received by service quality and complaints commissioners;
  • The literature it consulted.

"The Protecteur du citoyen wishes to thank the many people who opened up to it to talk frankly, honestly, poignantly and often forcefully about what they experienced in CHSLDs during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their contribution has made it possible for the Protecteur du citoyen to propose priorities for action today and will shape the work we intend to continue," Marie Rinfret said in closing.

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