WINNIPEG - The provincial government says it’s created a task force to implement province-wide all of the advice given in a report that follows an investigation into a COVID-19 outbreak at Maples Personal Care Home, where 157 residents contracted the disease. Manitoba Health officials say the risks uncovered by the report highlight the need for systemic change.
The more than a dozen recommendations were compiled after 56 residents at the care home died as a result of the coronavirus between October 20 and January 12. The findings of the investigation included a lack of planning for staff shortages that came as a result of workers needing to stay home after possible exposure to the virus.
Health and Senior Care Minister Heather Stefanson says a team is already in place to help implement all of 17 of the recommendations across all personal care homes in Manitoba within 30 days. The province has contracted former CEO of Southern Health Kathy McPhail to chair the 24-person implementation team, and leads have been assigned to focus on specific tasks needed to carry out each recommendation.
“Because issues at one site in one region can easily occur in other locations in the province,” McPhail says, “the plan calls for issues and solutions to be addressed at a system level.” Stefanson says the team will focus at first on developing a standardized pandemic plan across the province’s care homes within three months, to ensure support and resources can be deployed quickly when needed. Within nine months, the province is planning a review and possible overhaul of its licensing standards, and will up the frequency of inspections.
More than just providing safe living environments, Stefanson says the province wants to identify best practices on how personal care homes can ensure open communication, and re-build trust with residents’ families. The province says they’ll update Manitobans on home care review implementation progress every three months.