PPE Emergency in Seniors Care and Community Living Sectors

April 11, 2020 | News, COVID-19



April 11, 2020

PPE Emergency in Seniors Care and Community Living Sectors

Further to previous communication regarding the COVID 19 pandemic, I am urgently writing regarding a crisis happening in BC’s long-term care, assisted living, home care and community living sectors regarding the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).

For weeks, SafeCare BC and front-line care providers have sounded the alarm about PPE shortages. Most have acknowledged the problem. Unfortunately, the time for acknowledgement is at an end. We need action from the public and health leaders.

Yesterday, Safe Care BC conducted an urgent survey of members. 478 long term care, assisted living, home support and community living providers responded from all health regions. The results confirmed:

  • 70% say they are experiencing a critical shortage of personal protective equipment
  • 77% of care providers say they have no N-95 masks (52%), or only have enough to last up to three days (25%)
  • 51% of care providers say they have no eye protection equipment (21%), or expect to be out by end of the long weekend (30%)
  • 70% of care providers expect to run out of surgical masks by the end of next week; 38% expect to run out this long weekend
  • 62% of care providers expect to run out of hand sanitizer by the end of next week
  • 49% of care providers have three days or less worth of gowns; 25% more have only enough to last up to a week
  • 45% of care providers expect to run out of exam gloves by the end of next week

Last month we enlisted the public’s help with the establishment of Operation Protect. Through outreach to the media, elected representatives across BC and some regional health officials we have received 360,500 pieces of equipment from 350 wonderful donors so far.

Unfortunately, it is not enough.

Until April 9, SafeCare BC was directing all donated items into the provincial supply chain. Despite this, of 72 requesting continuing care organizations, only three had received PPE from the province. Multiple care providers have received invoices for the donated items.

Now, we are responding directly to urgent requests for assistance from SafeCare BC members and assisted living providers. In addition to ensuring donations reach their intended destination at no cost, we will continue to direct PPE to the provincial supply chain. So far, we have transferred three large shipments of PPE for use in BC hospitals and other health care sectors.

The data from this survey of front-line home support, community living, and long-term care providers confirms we are in the middle of a PPE emergency. We need you to:

  • Continue to spread the word about Operation Protect and encourage donations of PPE this weekend and over the coming month.
  • Encourage public health officials to immediately designate BC long-term care homes, assisted living residences, community living and home care providers as a priority for access to PPE to protect these vulnerable population groups.

SafeCare BC representatives have requested emergency meetings this weekend with the CEOs of BC health authorities, Ministry of Health, WorkSafeBC, Community Living BC and union leaders regarding this PPE emergency. In addition to communicating these new survey results, we will ask them to support these actions.

In the meantime, SafeCare BC members in need of PPE and potential donors are invited to contact Operation Protect directly at www.safecarebc.ca/operationprotect or info@safecarebc.ca. Questions regarding accepted donations can be directed to info@safecarebc.ca or 1-877-955-6565.


Jen Lyle
CEO, SafeCare BC