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Months after promising Alzheimer’s drug declared a failure, new analysis suggests it was effective

Tara Bahrampour, The Washington Post (US), The National Post (Canada)

Seven months after clinical trials for a promising Alzheimer’s drug were halted and the treatment was declared a failure, a new analysis suggests it was actually effective, and the company that makes it plans to move forward in securing federal approval. The astonishing reversal on aducanumab, an antibody therapy which targets a protein called amyloid beta that builds up in the brain, comes after new data from the discontinued studies showed that at high doses the drug reduced cognitive decline in patients with early Alzheimer’s .“It could be a game-changer for the field,” said Rebecca Edelmayer, director of scientific engagement at the Alzheimer’s Association. “It could be one of the first disease-modifying therapies approved for Alzheimer’s disease.”

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My Vision for better long-term care in Ontario

Merrilee Fullerton, M.D., The Ottawa Citizen

Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, MPP for Kanata- Carleton is currently Ontario’s Minister of Long-term Care

Our most vulnerable people deserve a sense of dignity, a place to call home and to receive high-quality care. Sadly, the previous government did little to improve long-term care in Ontario. With an aging population, ensuring that our long-term care system provides Ontarians with the support they need, when they need it, is a top priority for our government. Our work has just begun. As minister of long-term care, I am working to build a system that focuses on residents and a place our province’s most vulnerable can call home. To achieve this, we need to work together to the change the way long-term care works in the province.

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Ontario coroner revising reporting form used in long-term care home deaths

Joanne Laucius 

The chief coroner of Ontario is revising the death record used to report long-term care home deaths with questions calculated to raise red flags about deaths that warrant closer looks. A significant proportion of deaths in Ontario happen in long-term care homes: about 20,000 annually from a total of 160,000. These are less likely to be investigated by a coroner, but there’s a simple explanation: People with numerous concurrent medical conditions are simply more at risk of dying, and the demise of a very ill or elderly person can hardly be described as unusual. But the simple explanation can also mask suspicious deaths. “There has been a bias in society that long-term care deaths are not unexpected,” chief coroner Dr. Dirk Huyer said. Eight elderly people died at the hands of nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer, who injected them with insulin. A public inquiry found last week that a coroner had been called in three of those eight cases. There was no suspicion that the deaths were the result of intentional wrongdoing, so Wettlaufer’s crimes were only uncovered after she confessed in September 2016. While the total number of Ontario deaths investigated by the coroner’s office has remained about the same in the past decade — from 18,308 in 2007 to 17,154 in 2017 — the number of long-term care death investigations dropped sharply: to 886 in from 3,326 in 2007. While a coroner investigating a long-term care death will typically conduct a head-to-toe examination of a body, autopsies in long-term care deaths are also rare.

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The people who profit from Ontario long-term care homes are not the people who have to live in them

A message from SEIU, Healthcare Union in Canada, The Globe and Mail

Well-off people don’t have to. They pay more for better conditions. But many Ontarians have no choice. They’re stuck with Chartwell, Extendicare, Revera or Sienna and the service they provide. They pay CEOs well for generating profits. But it doesn’t take a wizard to generate profits from a captive market by cutting costs relentlessly. A CEO worth the millions paid to Brent Binions, Michael Guerriere, Thomas Wellner and Lois Cormack might find better ways to make money instead of rationing diapers, seriously understaffing homes and leaving workers struggling to provide basic levels of care. Leaders know business can be better than this. Sustainable businesses make profits while improving their communities. Use your influence to get Binions, Guerriere, Wellner and Cormack to develop a better business plan. One that leaves the elderly with their dignity.

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Frail elderly “failed by care deserts”

BBC News, Nick Triggle

The system for looking after frail older people in England is falling apart, with what are being dubbed “care deserts” emerging, a charity says. An analysis carried out for Age UK indicates about 30% of areas now have no residential care beds. The situation is even worse for nursing homes – needed for the most frail – with more than 60% having no places. Recruiting staff and keeping services running were proving a real challenge some areas, the charity said. Age UK believes the situation is now so bad that about 1.4 million older people are not getting the care they need – nearly one in seven of the over-65 population. Ruthe Isden, from Age UK, said: “The system is failing people – and that is having catastrophic consequences.” The government has promised plans to reform the care system will be put forward soon.

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