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Life and death in long-term care: are we learning the wrong lessons from COVID-19?

COVID-19 Pandemics Aged care End of life care Residential care Deaths Quality of life Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on residents of Canada’s long-term care homes. While governments consider serious reforms to improve long-term care, this study proposes a new approach to evaluate the success of such institutions: comparing deaths in long-term care institutions with deaths in similar age groups living in the community during the pandemic and during a non-pandemic year.

The authors find that, while the pandemic doubled the risk of dying among residents of long-term care institutions, only part of the difference in mortality in institutions can be attributed to the way institutions are organised and funded. At the same time, the authors caution governments against enforcing a rigid form of care based solely on preventing death, as this could ultimately lower the quality of life of residents.

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IRPP Study 89