‘You can’t give someone a bath from six feet away’: What it’s like to work at a long-term care facility right now

I work as an attending physician and medical director for two long-term care facilities, Belmont House in Rosedale and Chester Village in Scarborough. Belmont House has 140 long-term care residents, and Chester Village has 203.

In both facilities, most rooms are private—in the neighbourhood of 70 per cent—on most floors, and Belmont House has one floor with a larger number of semi-private rooms, many with couples living together.

Both homes have plenty of open spaces, sunlight, activity areas and accessible outdoor space for those with dementia. Our residents are elderly and require a lot of care, and it takes 10 employees to look after each person.

Everything seemed to change for us, and the rest of the world, on March 13. One of the first things we did was restrict who was coming in and out of the facility—just essential staff.

We quickly realized that physicians could put homes at risk because we work in multiple places, so we changed the protocol to have one on-site doctor for each facility.

This is a rotating position: I’m the on-site doctor at Chester Village right now, and doctors continue to care for residents through virtual rounds.

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