The province is sharing the full review of a care home that made the news for its devastating COVID-19 outbreak.

Since the pandemic, 74 staff members and 157 residents tested positive for COVID-19 at Maples Long Term Care Home, with more than one-third of its residents who contracted the virus dying from it. 

On October 19, and the outbreak was declared, ending on January 12. In those four months, 56 peopel died from COVID-19.

"This was a tragedy for the residents, their families, and for the staff caring for them," Minister Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson says, extending her condolences to those affected and thanking staff for their dedicated care.

Dr. Lynn Stevenson was enlisted by the province to conduct an external review. Releasing her findings Thursday, she is recommending 17 actions being taken, with a common need for staffing. Six of the 17 recommendations are specific to Maples with others are related to the provincial response as well as the ability to adapt to changing needs. 

Common issues that arose were: not enough infection control on the site, inconsistent communication from staff to families, and improper staff training. Stevenson says one of the largest contributors to the care home's issues was a lack of preparation for lower staff numbers.

Stefanson says the province is:

  • ensuring additional skills training for security and general labour staff,
  • strengthening pandemic staffing plans,
  • enhancing care plans for residents in outbreak situations, and
  • improving communications with families.

The province began this work in December.

Other actions needed include:

  • changing how the planning and operations tables connect to each other and to the long-term care sector as part of the province’s overall pandemic response;
  • taking steps to further strengthening infection prevention and control practices;
  • promoting safe visitation by designated caregivers and visitors including updating visitation guidelines, mandating the same protective personal equipment for designated caregivers as staff, and implementing outdoor and indoor visitation shelters to support safe family interactions with residents;
  • implementing an asymptomatic personal care home staff surveillance rapid testing pilot project;
  • developing new staffing strategies including opportunities to redeploy community and continuing care resources to support staffing stabilization in sites with high needs due to outbreaks; and
  • improving communications with sites across the province and sharing clinical learnings provincewide.

The review looked at care before and during the pandemic for changes. The audit reviewed 91 factors ranging from access to supports to hand hygiene. 

The full review can be read online.