Latest wave of COVID takes a toll on Toronto long-term care homes again

Kensington Place Retirement Home, Toronto

Toronto retirement homes are once again being battered by COVID, although far fewer deaths have been reported in this most recent wave of infections.

At Kensington Place Retirement Home, a kosher home on Sheppard Avenue West, as of Jan. 13, there are 29 residents and 5 staff with COVID, in an outbreak that began last month, according to data collected by Toronto Public Health. One resident has died and one is hospitalized.

At the Terraces of Baycrest, five residents and one staff member have COVID.

In York Region, just north of Toronto, Amica of Thornhill and Viva Thornhill Woods have reported COVID cases among residents, according to York Region Public Health.

Carolyn Donsky, whose father lives at Kensington Place, said residents are confined to their rooms, even for meals. The lockdown has taken a greater toll on those who are more dependent on PSWs for assistance.

Even before the recent outbreak, the home was short-staffed and caregivers were overworked, she said. But now the situation is worse.

“It’s basically a mess. The poor staff who’ve stayed healthy have been working double shifts, non-stop,” she said.

Residents who are healthier can go outside the home and go for a walk, but those who are frailer are stuck in their rooms, even if they are not ill, she said.

“From a health perspective, I think the residents are doing well physically. It’s the whole emotional part for these seniors when they are in lockdown,” said Donsky, who is a family physician.

“They’ve had several lockdowns and each time people get more isolated and more depressed,” she said.

The staff at Kensington “is implementing all infection prevention and control precautions to combat COVID-19 and continues to work closely with Toronto Public Health,”  according to a statement from Nadia Daniell-Colarossi, manager of media relations for Sienna Senior Living, which operates the home.

 “The vast majority of residents have either no or mild symptoms, thanks to the protection of booster doses,” she said.

All the residents have received three doses of the COVID vaccine. Sienna Senior Living has a mandatory vaccination policy for staff and is working with a hospital to provide staff with third doses, the statement said.

A spokesperson from the home was unavailable to speak directly with The CJN, Daniell-Colarossi said.