Proposing long-term solutions for long-term care

Image of Shawna O'Neill
By Shawna O'Neill
Proposing long-term solutions for long-term care
From left, Bonnie Lauzon, CUPE local 1919 representative, Elaine MacDonald, Co-Chair of Cornwall chapter Ontario Health Coalition and Louise Lanctot, President of Cornwall District Labour Council. (Shawna O'Neill/TC Media).

CORNWALL, Ontario – Community members discussed an Ontario Health Coalition report pertaining to long-term care in the province on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

“What we are calling for is a major reinvestment in the system,” said Elaine MacDonald, Co-Chair of the Cornwall chapter of Health Coalition. “It’s a local story, but it’s not just local. It’s happening all over the province.”

The report, Situation Critical: Planning, Access, Levels of Care and Violence in Ontario’s Long-Term Care, was inspired by frequent complaints from families and workers of long-term care homes. Various statistics were highlighted in the report, such as how resident-on-resident violence has increased since 2011 and staff injury rates in long-term care homes are among the highest of any industry in our economy.

“The report really tells the story of 25 years of progressive, degeneration of the long-term care system and the Ontario health system overall,” said MacDonald.
MacDonald emphasized that 80,000 residents of the province currently reside in long-term care homes, while approximately 30,000 remain on a waitlist.

“People spend five to six months languishing, in need of a long-term care facility…of course, when they get there, there isn’t enough people working there to get them what they need,” said MacDonald.

Bonnie Lauzon, CUPE local 1919 representative and long-term care employee of 30 years, discussed how more staff is needed in long-term care homes to adequately provide residents with the services they need.

“The needs of our residents have changed over the years…the hours (we need) aren’t there,” said Lauzon. “Everyone deserves dignity and at least four hours of care a day, of hands-on care.”

Lauzon said that currently it is recommended that patients receive four hours of one-on-one care per day while they reportedly receive an average of 2.35 hours per day across the province.

Lauzon also discussed how the growing trend of violence in long-term care homes has increased, referencing the 27 homicides seen in long-term care homes across the province in the last five years.

“We have to look at the violence…we have to address that systemic issue,” encouraged Lauzon. According to MacDonald, the statistic does not include the eight homicides committed by Elizabeth Wettlaufer.

Other points of discussion around the report included the lack of assistance linking hospital patients with long-term care homes and the lack of full-time job opportunities for PSW and RPN workers in these facilities.

Recommendations made in the report include increased funding and regulated minimum care standards of four hours per day, per patient. The report also suggests the province adopt long-term care capacity planning, the province discontinue hospital downsizing as complex patients are often offloaded to long-term care homes, as well as the necessity of in-house Behavioural Support Ontario (BSO) trained staff.

The gathering was dedicated to Henry Kite, who was a strong supporter of the Health Coalition and their local efforts.

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