After all the horror stories to emerge from long-term care facilities during the early stages of the Covid pandemic, one might expect that relatives of those in care would be outraged. After all, there was mass death in some facilities with conditions described as appalling.

Yet a solid majority of relatives are supportive of the facilities, at least according to a survey by Angus-Reid. The pollster asked 800 Canadians who have had a family member or a close friend in care within the past year about their opinion of the institutions. A solid majority, 75-89 percent, said the facility either did well enough or did everything that could be expected. Only 11-24 percent said not everything was done that could be expected.

The range in responses depended on the type of facility. And here’s another surprise. Government-run facilities rated only a little better than those run by large private companies, often chains. The best-run in the view of the responders, by a significant margin, were those of small private companies. According to the survey, only half as many respondents were concerned about staffing levels in small private facilities as they were by levels in government or larger chain-run private facilities. Angus-Reid concluded the key is size, not ownership.

This has political importance as some politicians and parties have been suggesting that long-term facilities should all be placed under government management. The survey suggests that may be the wrong focus, that they should instead be touting smaller, independent facilities.

This is only one survey and hardly definitive. But it does at least offer a hint about the direction we should be going to improve the lives of the most dependent of our citizens.

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