Elderly patients with nowhere else to go are crowding hospitals. How Ontario aims to solve the crisis

Many patients in understaffed hospitals don’t need medical help any more, but stay because spaces in long-term care or the community are scarce. The Globe examined the scope of the problem and what’s being done.

Theresa Ainsborough sat slouched in a wheelchair outside her hospital room on a Monday afternoon in March, as her daughter coaxed her to take another bite of a tuna sandwich.

The 92-year-old had recovered from the bout of pneumonia that sent her to Southlake Regional Health Care Centre in Newmarket, north of Toronto, in early February, but she was still too frail to return home. The pneumonia had worsened her dementia, and she needed the support of a nursing home, but there were no beds available. With nowhere else to go, she was stuck in the hospital, with no appetite for lunch and few opportunities for exercise or social stimulation – and becoming weaker by the day.