Risk factors for COVID-19 outbreaks in Ontario’s retirement homes
Toronto, ON (December 14, 2020) – Today, the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) shares a pre-print research report completed in partnership with McMaster University that examines the association between retirement home and community level characteristics and the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks in Ontario’s retirement homes during the first wave of the pandemic.
According to this retrospective cohort study, readily identifiable characteristics of Ontario’s retirement homes are associated with COVID-19 outbreaks.
“We found that the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in retirement homes is connected to larger resident capacity, co-location with a long-term care facility, large corporate owned chains, a higher availability of services onsite and increases in regional COVID-19 incidence,” says Andrew Costa, associate professor and Schlegel Chair in Clinical Epidemiology and Aging Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact at McMaster University. “The goal of this research is to support the identification of risk factors for COVID-19 outbreaks in retirement homes at both a provincial and regional level.”
This research indicates that COVID-19 cases during the first wave of the pandemic (March 1 – September 24, 2020) were distributed unevenly across Ontario’s retirement homes. Key findings include:
- 3% retirement homes experienced one or more COVID-19 outbreaks, involving 1.9% residents and 1.5% staff.
- 2% of resident and staff cases occurred in 10% of Ontario’s retirement homes.
- There was a strong association between retirement home outbreaks and the 14-day rolling incidence of COVID-19 in the surrounding public health region.
- Retirement homes with a capacity greater than 100 residents had more than a 5-fold increase in risk of COVID-19 outbreak.
- Retirement homes that offered nine or more services had nearly a 2-fold increase in risk for a COVID-19 outbreak.
- Retirement homes co-located with a long-term care facility experienced nearly a 2-fold increase in risk for a COVID-19 outbreak.
“The heavy impact that seniors in particular have endured as part of the COVID-19 pandemic is devastating and upsetting for all Ontarians,” says Jay O’Neill, Registrar and CEO at RHRA. “COVID-19 has amplified many issues within retirement homes, and at the RHRA, we are working tirelessly to address the needs of residents.”
There are more than 770 retirement homes in Ontario licensed under the Retirement Homes Act, 2010. The information used for this report includes data collected by the RHRA and self-reports by licensed retirement homes to the RHRA, in accordance with retirement homes’ regulatory obligations. The study also refers to data obtained from the Ontario Ministry of Health and additional data sources. The majority of the retirement homes examined for this study had a capacity of more than 100 residents, had external care providers who visited the retirement homes daily, were corporate-owned chains, were located in communities with larger populations and lower ethnic concentration and provided more than six services to residents on-site. The minority of retirement homes examined were co-located with a long-term care facility.
“RHRA is continuing to share data to keep the public, including residents, families, researchers and health care professionals, informed on how the pandemic is affecting retirement homes,” says O’Neill. “We are committed to proactively extend results from the retirement home sector in order to collectively learn for the future.”
The pre-print of the full report is available at medrxiv.org and get daily updates on reported COVID-19 outbreaks, cases and associated deaths on RHRA’s COVID-19 Dashboard rhra.ca/en/covid19dashboard/.
For further information:
Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority