A La Presse report revealed that, due to the lack of beds in hospitals and public residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs), the Quebec health care system has for several years housed seniors with reduced autonomy in 212 private residences. The situation is a source of apprehension for the CAQ’s Marguerite Blais, the minister responsible for elders and informal caregivers, who expressed her concerns to the Québec Ombudsman last week regarding the safety of seniors in these facilities and the quality of care provided.
The Minister’s move was prompted by an article published in La Presse, which sheds light on the case of the Bellerive facility, located in the east of Montréal, to which the Integrated University Health and Social Services Centre (CIUSSS) de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal sent 200 seniors with reduced autonomy between July 2013 and January 2019. Over this period, the residence was the subject of three unfavourable reports on resident safety, which mentioned episodes of unsanitary conditions and negligence. Not to mention that the Bellerive owners, who also own rental properties, had two of their properties evacuated by the City of Montréal for unsanitary conditions in 2014, which the CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal says it was not aware of before signing an agreement with them.
In January, the CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal finally took steps to relocate the seniors, but Minister Blais maintains that the situation is unacceptable. She recognizes that it can often be cheaper to place clients in private facilities, but that there can be absolutely no compromise on the quality of the care they receive there. She says that she has begun a review of the certification process for private seniors’ residences since she took her position last fall. The CAQ government also intends to add 900 new CHSLD beds to improve existing services and to build homes for seniors. However, simply adding more CHSLD beds is not enough to fully offset the public network’s incapacity to accommodate seniors with severe loss of autonomy.