Provincial Budget Does Little to Close the Care Gap for Seniors in Long Term Care Homes

TORONTO, April 23, 2015 /CNW/ - The Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors (OANHSS) warns that today's Provincial Budget will do little to improve care levels for residents living in Ontario's long term care homes.

In the months leading up to the Budget, OANHSS urged the provincial government to put more money into front-line staff -- primarily nurses and personal support workers -- to meet the growing and increasingly complex needs of residents.

Specifically, OANHSS called for investments to achieve a provincial average of 4.0 hours of direct care per resident per day over the next three years. This call was echoed by many sector stakeholders as well as residents and family members.

"Clearly, long term care was far from a priority in this budget," says Donna Rubin, OANHSS CEO. "It's particularly disheartening because this is by no means a new need. This is the same target recommended in the government-commissioned Sharkey Report on long term care in 2008, and that same report recommended that 4.0 hours of care be achieved by 2012. The target was right then, and it is right now, yet we are still not there."

Long term care homes serve one of the most vulnerable groups in society – the frail elderly. Many come directly from hospitals with very complex care requirements as well as advanced forms of dementia and responsive behaviours. Seniors being admitted from the community also have highly complex and heavy care needs because they are staying in their own homes for as long as possible.

"We simply do not have enough staff in our homes to provide the level of care that Ontario's seniors need and deserve," added Rubin.

Currently, based on the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's data and its formula to calculate hours of direct care, long term care residents are receiving an average of 3.4 hours a day. The Association calculated that the gap of just over a half an hour per resident per day could be closed with an investment of $385 million and recommended that this be phased in over three years in recognition of the fiscal situation.

The 2015-16 Budget has provided a 2% increase in resident care funding. This will help to maintain existing staffing levels but doesn't close the care gap. After netting out 1.5% for inflation, primarily wage inflation, 0.5% remains. Leaving aside non-staff care costs, the real increase provides for an additional 1.2 minutes of care per resident per day. OANHSS' three-year plan called for 8.4 minutes in year one. The OANHSS plan called for another 16.8 minutes in year 2 and a final 8.4 minutes in year three to bring the province to an average of 4.0 hours of direct care each day for each resident.

The government continued its commitment to enhancing community-based care by investing more than $750 million over the next three years.

"Investing in community care is certainly the right way to go, but the government can't ignore the fact that some seniors will reach the stage where their care needs can't be met at home, and we must make sure that our long term care homes have the staff and resources to provide the level of care they need," urged Rubin.

OANHSS is the provincial association representing not-for-profit providers of long term care, services and housing for seniors. Members include not-for-profit long term care homes (municipal, charitable and non-profit nursing homes) seniors' housing, supportive housing, and community service agencies. Member organizations serve over 36,000 long term care residents annually and operate over 8,000 seniors' housing units across the province.

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

For further information: Debbie Humphreys (dhumphreys@oanhss.org), Senior Director, Corporate and Public Affairs, (W) 905-851-8821 x233, (C) 416-553-7401

RELATED LINKS
http://www.oanhss.org

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

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