CHAA hosted regular lessons-learned meetings and workshops throughout the pandemic to share real-time insights between operators and experts on how to best manage within a pandemic environment.

At a system level, CHAA contributed to Alberta’s Auditor General report, COVID-19 in Continuing Care Facilities, on how our continuing care system responded during the early months of the pandemic. Unfortunately the report covers only the first nine months of the pandemic and wasn’t released until the three-year mark, which limited the sector’s ability to use and apply the findings.

The Health Quality Council of Alberta also evaluated the experiences and quality of life among care home residents and family members in mid-2020.

Here are the important findings from these lessons learned sources:

  • COVID-19 was — and still is today — extremely dangerous to seniors. While continuing care facilities accounted for 8% of COVID-19 cases during the first nine months of the pandemic, these cases accounted for 65% of COVID-related deaths.

  • Residents and families had at times divergent perspectives on how the pandemic should be managed at the site level. Many families did not feel the right balance was struck between infection prevention, associated restrictions, and quality of life.

  • There was a lack of clarity regarding the roles of Alberta Health versus Alberta Health Services in supporting contracted continuing care operators during the pandemic. Furthermore, neither health organization had included contracted operators in province-wide pandemic simulation exercises in the preceding nine years. This lack of preparation led to delays in mobilizing resources, policies, and communication channels.

  • Detailed epidemiological data on transmission sources and pathways was only collected during the first three months of the pandemic, despite scientists and facilities continuing to study COVID-19 for two+ more years. This left continuing care operators unable to access emerging, Alberta-based data on the transmission patterns within care homes and the mitigation measures that could be taken. Instead, CHAA operators relied primarily on informal and anecdotal information shared amongst operators.

  • An estimated 85% of all continuing care staff in contracted sites work part-time — large associated with the way care homes are funded for staffing — which led to some gaps in staffing coverage, consistency, and competencies.

  • Not-for-profit care homes had proportionally fewer COVID-19 cases and deaths than for-profit care homes — possibly due to the depth of clinical and operating experience (25-165 years) among not-for-profit operators compared to for-profit operators, many of which are newer operators in continuing care.

View the Auditor General's Report: COVID-19 in Continuing Care Facilities

View the Health Quality Council of Alberta's COVID-19 Continuing Care Study

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