90 long-term care homes in Ontario still without air conditioning amid heatwave, ministry says

Legislation requires all long-term care homes to have AC in resident rooms





Legislation requires all long-term care homes to have AC in resident rooms

Courtesy of CBC News · Posted: Jul 20, 2022

Jacy Ruuhala, a North York resident, poses with her father in his long-term care home. There is no air conditioning in his room and he is suffering, she says. (Submitted by Jacy Ruuhala)

Ninety long-term care homes in Ontario do not have air conditioning in all resident rooms, according to the provincial government.

In an email on Wednesday, the long-term care ministry said the remaining 537 out of 627 long-term care homes in the province are fully air conditioned and all long-term care homes in the province have designated cooling areas for residents.

Legislation passed last year requires air conditioning to be installed in all resident rooms at long-term care homes as of this year.

Of those not fully air-conditioned, 57 are for-profit, 25 are non-profit and eight are municipally operated.

“The Ministry of Long-Term Care continues to work with Infrastructure Ontario and remaining homes not yet fully air conditioned to make more progress installing air conditioning in all resident rooms as soon as possible,” the ministry said.

According to the ministry, some homes have experienced delays in installing units in all rooms for a variety of reasons, including global supply chain issues, COVID-19 outbreaks and visitor restrictions preventing contractors from entering homes.

It also said electrical upgrades or changes to building structures are required in some cases.

Jacy Ruuhala, a North York resident, said her father’s room is unbearable due to a lack of air conditioning. The 77-year-old, who has been residing in the private long-term care home since last October 2021, has COVID-19 and is isolated.

The window in his room opens a crack but fans are not allowed because they apparently blow the virus around, she said.

“There’s no air circulating. There’s nothing. It’s just humid, hot air. It’s uncomfortable,” she said.

Residents in dozens of long-term care facilities in Ontario are still living without air conditioning, despite new legislation. One woman is speaking out about what that’s meant for her father in long-term care.

Ruuhala said the lack of air conditioning has her concerned about her father, who has Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

She said Ontario Premier Doug Ford has not fulfilled the promise he made two years ago that all residents’ rooms in long-term care homes would be air conditioned. She said the home has told her it can’t finish putting an air conditioning unit in because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It’s just horrible,” she said. 

“I am feeling really angry with the government and that it was a broken promise that he ensured all long term care centres and homes would have air conditioning and he didn’t provide that.”

Ruuhala said she would like government officials to experience the heat themselves. 

“Come and spend two hours in a home in a closed wing and feel the same fear and worry and anxiety of coming in there and don all the PPE and sit there and sweat,” she said.

Vivian Stamatopoulos, an associate teaching professor at Ontario Tech University and a long-term care advocate, said it’s a “systemic failure” that air conditioning is not in place in all long-term care homes in Ontario. There’s no excuse, she said.

“Give me a break. Give me a break. I am so tired of excuses I could go to Canadian Tire right now and get a Dyson,” she said.

Stamatopoulos said it’s “incredibly dangerous” for older adults to live in these conditions and unsafe for staff.

“I am hearing accounts from staff who tell me directly they have near fainted while on shift working in those conditions, let alone the residents having to live in those conditions as well,” she said.

“This is dangerous across the board.”

Patricia Dent

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