TORONTO, June 13, 2012 /CNW/ - Health Minister Deb Matthews has
responded to a persistent problem with neglect and abuse in Ontario's
nursing homes by eliminating annual inspections, says Warren (Smokey)
Thomas, president of the 130,000-member Ontario Public Service
"Instead of being proactive in their inspection process, Ontario is now
waiting for frail and elderly residents to complain before they will
act," says Thomas. "It's a little like taking police officers off the
beat and waiting for the victims of crime to call in."
Matthews told the Toronto Star yesterday that only problems homes will receive a resident quality
inspection, relying on family, residents and staff to alert inspectors
"Homes that are least compliant are also more likely to have residents
unable to complain," says Jane Meadus of the Advocacy Centre for the
Elderly (ACE). "These residents are also less likely to have family or
friends to complain on their behalf: if they had those people they
wouldn't be in these homes in the first place."
Meadus says in other cases, residents and families are afraid to
complain because of fears of retaliation.
"This government has said it will protect the vulnerable, frail
residents of long-term care - who are now sicker and require more care
than ever before due to the closure of rehabilitation, complex
continuing care, and mental health beds - but are failing to do so by
refusing to inspect the homes on an annual basis as promised and
required to ensure high quality care," she says.
"This is a blatant evasion of responsibility for the health and
well-being of our vulnerable citizens," says Derrell Dular, Managing
Director of the Older Canadians Network. "If the City of Toronto can
inspect all of its thousands of restaurants each year, why can't the
province inspect 641 long term care homes? Where are their priorities?"
The inspectors went public this week, complaining that it was taking up
to a year to respond to individual complaints and that less than one in
five homes were receiving comprehensive inspections each year.
The backlog of inspections is so long that inspectors say they were
arriving at homes to find the resident who made the original complaint
had passed away.
The inspectors say they are being told to focus on the complaint - a not
so subtle suggestion to overlook other compliance issues while in the
The Ministry of Health says it received 2,841 complaints last year.
If a home gets no complaints, there will be no inspection despite a
requirement under the Long Term Care Homes Act that an annual
inspection will take place.
The inspectors say the Ministry is bending the rules by accepting any
complaint investigation as fulfilling that requirement.
"Many of these residents have no family members nearby and cannot speak
for themselves," says Thomas. "Without annual inspections, many
vulnerable residents will be left unprotected."
For further information:
Rick Janson at 416-443-8888 ext 8383 (Toll-Free 1-800-268-7376), 416-525-3324 (Cell) or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional commentary on this issue can be found at http://diablogue.org