Services for seniors require urgent improvement

Services for seniors require urgent improvement

As the second wave surges, we urgently need to learn from last spring’s events in order to prevent a grim repeat of the death tolls witnessed among our elders. That’s why we responded to the call issued by the Québec Ombudsman (Protecteur du citoyen) in its investigation into the management of the COVID-19 crisis in CHSLDs.

The pandemic and the ensuing confinement measures further complicated the daily lives of health and social services professionals and technicians, adding to the difficulties they already faced in their work. It was our responsibility as their union to answer that call and help the Ombudsman’s office fulfill its critical mandate.

APTS members bore witness to a human tragedy that hit seniors the hardest. After gathering extensive feedback and first-hand accounts from our members, the APTS proposed various solutions to improve housing and home care for seniors.

Here are the highlights of the opinion paper we submitted to the Québec Ombudsman.[i]

The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on long-term care facilities (CHSLDs) has left no doubt that an in-depth review of seniors’ housing and home support services is imperative. More specifically, from the standpoint of controlling contagious outbreaks and ensuring the wellness of elders, many of whom wish to grow old with dignity in the comfort of their own homes, we need to enhance the services available in this sector and rethink the continuum of services offered to seniors, from home support to CHSLDs.

A thorough and impartial assessment of the crisis that unfolded in the CHSLDs is crucial, in our view. In addition, an independent body with no political ties must conduct a rigorous needs assessment to determine the necessary funds to be reinvested in home support services. Calls for the government to reinvest in these services go back years.

It’s also time to reconsider the extensive role of the private sector in seniors’ housing, given the massive loss of life we’ve witnessed in recent months and the various problems and inequities that were evident before.

In welcoming input from those affected, their representatives and the groups involved in service delivery, it’s clear that decision making must be decentralized to avoid any mishandling and ensure that seniors’ concerns continue to be the top priority.

While most people agree that seniors’ facilities need to be modernized, we also believe that the range of services offered in these facilities needs to be updated. Recognizing the expertise and professional autonomy of APTS members would not only improve the quality of care, it would also increase the appeal of working in a sector fraught with severe staffing shortages.

There’s an urgent need to reverse the widespread decline in working conditions (and conditions of professional practice) in the public health and social services sector.

The APTS recommendations are to create conditions that are conducive to protecting workers’ health and safety, and provide financial and qualitative incentives to replenish this workforce that is indispensable in ensuring the well-being and dignity of seniors.

Our opinion paper emphasizes the vital role of Class 4 personnel in ensuring a positive way out of the crisis. Out of respect for those who have lost their lives, the APTS is committed to doing everything it can to play a constructive role in improving seniors’ housing and home support services.


[i] Our union’s presentation to the Québec Ombudsman is found here in French.

By Philippe Hurteau and Chantal Mantha |December 4, 2020