Promised Long Term Care Staff Critical to Government's Wait Times Strategy

TORONTO, Feb. 2 /CNW/ - Without funding for additional staff promised by the McGuinty government in its 2008-2009 Provincial Budget, care levels in homes will continue to decline and the sector will not have the capacity to ensure the success of the seniors' elements of the province's Emergency Room - Alternative Levels of Care Strategy (ER-ALC).

"OANHSS supports the Sharkey Report's call for an increase in staffing to four paid hours of care per resident per day but the longer we go without adding staff, the further homes will fall behind this target," said Donna Rubin, CEO of the Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors (OANHSS) in a pre-budget presentation today to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. "Funding for the remaining 1,627 personal support workers and 1,380 nurses promised by the government two years ago is immediately and desperately needed to meet the care needs of existing residents."

Over 76,000 residents live in Ontario's long term care homes and of those, 95% need assistance with dressing, eating and toileting, close to 90% need help moving from bed to wheelchair and more than two thirds suffer from some type of dementia.

With its ER-ALC strategy, the government is looking to place hospital patients who no longer require the intensity of resources/services provided in acute care settings (i.e. alternate level of care or ALC patients) in the community with additional home care or assisted living supports. This will result in long term care homes admitting residents with the heaviest care needs without adequate resources to support them.

"OANHSS members fully support initiatives aimed at ensuring the right care in the right place, but the success of this strategy hinges on the community and long term care home sectors having the staff and resources to provide the appropriate level of service and right now we don't," added Rubin.

One of the greatest challenges homes face is caring for residents with serious mental health issues and dementia that often result in aggressive and unpredictable behaviour, without adequate resources. OANHSS acknowledges that there has been recent government attention on this issue and that the reports coming out of the various consultations will be valuable for long-term planning purposes.

"What we need, however, and don't have, are immediate responses that will give residents in long term care homes and their families the assurance that they are living in safe and secure environments," said Rubin.

In the 2010-2011 budget, OANHSS is also looking for funding to support homes in managing massive system changes currently underway, including meeting the regulations under the new Long-Term Care Homes Act, as well as a commitment to annualize the one-time funding provided to homes in 2009 to address increasing service and supply costs and funding options for offsetting costs associated with building maintenance and renewal.

OANHSS is the provincial association representing not-for-profit providers of long term care, services and housing for seniors. Members include municipal and charitable long term care homes, non-profit nursing homes, seniors' housing projects and community service agencies. Member organizations operate over 27,000 long term care beds and over 5,000 seniors' housing units across the province.

For a copy of OANHSS' submission, go to www.oanhss.org.

SOURCE Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors (OANHSS)

For further information: For further information: Debbie Humphreys, (W) (905) 851-8821 ext 233, (C) (416) 553-7401

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Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors (OANHSS)

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