Long-term care homes in the region will receive $7.5 million to help them cope with COVID-19 under the latest round of funding from the province.
Twenty-two facilities in Waterloo Region are slated to receive support to increase their prevention and containment efforts. The funding was announced last week by Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris and Kitchener South-Hespeler MPP Amy Fee.
“This is an ever-evolving situation with our long-term care homes, and we’re always listening to feedback we’re getting from them and from the local community and trying to figure out where the best way to use any ongoing funding. I’m sure there will continue to be very similar announcements over the next while, while we keep trying to shore up our long-term care homes against COVID-19,” said Harris. “We’re working with our long-term care homes here in the region, we’re in constant contact with the local medical health officers, just to really work with them and make sure that the region’s needs are being looked after.”
He says the funding given out will help stop the virus from entering LTC homes by covering expenses related to creating a health checkpoint, so staff and caregivers are screened for symptoms and exposure to COVID-19, as well as to continue screening residents to support early detection. Other things on which the funding can be spent includes additional prevention and containment activities such as hiring staff to carry out the added workload or to replace those who are sick, cleaning, equipment, and operating supplies beyond typical levels, and implementing infection control based on clinical evidence.
Long-term care homes have been some of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year. Since April 2020, there have been more than 20,000 cases in LTC facilities across the province. Of those reported cases, more than 14,000 have been found to be in residents, while just under 5,800 have been in staff. The virus has been fatal in 3,473 cases, including 11 among staff members.
“[This funding is really for] anything that has to do with trying to care for patients with COVID-19. Anything that we can do to stop COVID-19 from coming into our homes, like extra screening for workers and, of course, essential caregivers, parents or loved ones that are coming into the home. [Funding] could be used for new staff, PSWs (personal support workers) who are trying to replace folks that are maybe off isolating or quarantining or that are sick. [It can also] be used for cleaning or equipment, all sorts of things really anything that will prevent COVID-19 from spreading,” Harris added.
Among those receiving funds are Derbecker’s Heritage House in St. Jacobs, which will receive $105,800, Twin Oaks of Maryhill ($52,500), and Nithview Home in New Hamburg ($294,600).
Harris says spending the funds will be up to the LTC homes, and the funding being provided was on a “needs basis” with a focus on older homes which may not have some of the infrastructure of the newer ones.
Dr. Steven Harrison, CEO of Tri-County Mennonite Homes, said he is very happy with the help the government has been giving to help fight COVID-19.
“It’s wonderful. It’s money that has been flowing to us over the last several months from the province of Ontario. So, it’s been there to support our ongoing pandemic supply needs and some staffing pressures and things like that – other elements of directives that the province has put in place that they’ve asked us to be able to comply with over the last little while. So, it’s great that they’ve made that sort of declaration to the broader sort of society that they’ve made these investments into long term care. And it’s fabulous, that we’ve been getting the support that we have,” said Harrison.
Harrison says the funding has been used on personal protective equipment to protect staff.