The catastrophe in private long-term care dispels myths about for-profit care
If anyone thought for-profit provision of services was a solution to the crisis in public health public care, one need only look at the terrible experience in Canada’s long-term care facilities during the pandemic.
“COVID-19’s impact on the health sector, along with government promises for increased investment, has offered a new opportunity for the privatization [arguments] to re-emerge. There are now calls to have the for-profit sector solve the crisis.
The arguments are not new: the private sector will add services, the private sector will offer more choices, the private sector does things more efficiently, the private sector provides better quality and the private sector is more innovative. But the old and new evidence from long-term care homes in Ontario should kill these arguments yet again.”
“Offered a choice, people tend to choose a non-profit or municipal home, mainly because Ontario for-profit homes are more likely to be old, to have four-bed rooms, to have the lowest staffing levels and to do more transfers to hospitals, to name only a few reasons.
They also had a much higher proportion of residents die from COVID-19 early in the pandemic, with 78 per cent more deaths than non-profit long-term care homes.”
Armstrong and Cohen remind readers of the terrible situations discovered by soldiers who were called upon to help patients in 2020.
“Three of the four homes where the military was sent in to rescue residents and staff early in the pandemic were for-profit and none were municipal. Yet these homes, with their beds primarily funded by the government, are virtually guaranteed a full house, so there is little financial risk. But there is no guarantee that care will be available given these homes might close if the land becomes valuable for re-development, or they might simply go out of business.
At the same time, with all homes receiving the same funding and resident fees established by the government for all nursing homes, there is no cost-saving to the government in for-profits delivering care.”
Pat Armstrong is Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology at York University, and Marjorie Griffin Cohen is Professor Emeritus of Simon Fraser University.
- Read “Why for-profit homes won’t solve long-term care issues: Privatizing health services is a bad idea that just won’t go away” by Pat Armstrong and Marjorie Griffin Cohen published January 2, 2023 in The Conversation.