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PETERBOROUGH, ON – 85,000 residents in the province’s long-term care homes have waited for more than eight years for Ontario’s Liberal government to make good on a long-promised minimum standard of care, and the time for them to act is now, advocates for better long-term care said at a Peterborough media conference today.
“The Liberal government first promised a legislated care standard in 2003. So far, they have let vulnerable seniors down,” said Candace Rennick, secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario. CUPE represents 30,000 personal support workers (PSWs), registered practical nurses (RPNs), health care and dietary aides who provide direct care to LTC residents, province-wide.
Most residents entering LTC facilities are over 85 years old. They are frail and have many complex medical needs. “Because of their age their personal care needs are higher than residents’ needs a decade ago. They need help with feeding, dressing, toileting and being moved from beds to chairs in addition to nursing medical care,” said Rennick.
In a report released this week, British Columbia’s provincial ombudsperson made recommendations to establish quality care standards in residential care facilities. The recommendations included minimum staffing levels and direct care hours as well as specific and objectively measurable standards for bathing, toileting, dental care and other aspects of personal care. Rennick called on Ontario’s Ombudsman Andre Marin to do the same.
At today’s media conference, front line staff Karen Popadynetz and Maggie Jewell, described the challenges faced by long-term care workers in providing care with dignity for residents in an under-resourced and under-staffed LTC system.
“There is no dignity in assembly-line feeding. It should take as long as the resident needs to fully finish a meal. Not the six minutes scheduled,” said Popadynetz.
According to Statistics Canada, Ontario spends $155.30 per LTC resident a day. This is far less than Quebec at $254.30, Saskatchewan at $216.70 and Alberta at $201.80. Only PEI and New Brunswick spend less.
“It breaks my heart when residents say that they are lonely – and I want to stay and talk with them, but I can’t because we don’t have enough staff on the floor,” said Jewell.
In the coming weeks PSWs, dietary aides and RPNs are reaching out to their members of provincial parliament (MPP) and urging them to champion minimum 3.5 hours of care standard in the upcoming session at Queen’s Park.
Area LTC direct care staff will be meeting with local MPP Jeff Leal tomorrow. They stress that action on a hands-on care standard is needed now. Residents have waited long enough, they say.
“All the action plans in the world don’t add up to much if you don’t legislate a minimum standard of 3.5 hours of care per resident, per day,” said Rennick referring to the Liberal government’s recent health care “action plan” announcement. “We urge the health minister to bring dignity back to long-term care residents with a legislated minimum care standard, not with ‘action plans’.”
For more information please contact:
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications 416-559-9300
Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer, CUPE Ontario 705-768-2288
For more on the need for a minimum care standard in LTC and to view the 3.5 hrs video