TORONTO, Jan. 14, 2013 /CNW/ - SEIU Healthcare says new measures announced today by Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews to strengthen long-term care of the elderly, including enhanced training and recruitment of Personal Support Workers (PSWs), are a welcome move in developing the human resources required to meet the needs of an aging population.
"The initiative to train and recruit 200 Personal Support Workers to help care for residents with dementia and challenging behaviours is a wise and necessary investment," said Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Healthcare. "The move speaks to the need to improve staffing levels and access to training for frontline workers caring for residents with increasingly complex needs."
She said the move underlines the need for a province-wide Personal Support Worker Strategy to ensure Ontario has the health human resources it needs to care for an aging population.
The enhancements to long-term care reflected in the Minister's announcement include steps to address pressing needs identified in the May 2012 report of the Long-Term Care Task Force on Resident Care and Safety.
Ms. Stewart served as a member of the Long-Term Care Task Force on Resident Care and Safety, which was appointed in November 2011 and made a series of recommendations to address safety and neglect in long-term care homes in May 2012.
"An enduring commitment to improve resident safety and quality of care through new staff training and development is of paramount importance, and will help address some of the challenges identified by residents, families, and staff," said Stewart.
Ms. Stewart has been a tireless advocate for staff and residents and families in the nursing home sector. As head of SEIU Healthcare, she is the voice for more than 22,000 frontline workers in Ontario's long-term care homes. SEIU Healthcare represents the Personal Support Workers and Registered Practical Nurses who provide hands-on care for sick and elderly people—the front-line workers who are the heart of Ontario's healthcare system.
"Convalescent beds in long-term care homes also have a role to play in providing relief for family caregivers and supporting seniors in transition," said Stewart, adding there is unmet demand for interim care in rural and underserved communities like Thunder Bay.
Short-stay beds in long-term care homes provide the ability to provide interim care for frail seniors living at home who experience a temporary change in their situation - either in their medical condition or with a family member who cannot cope with their care needs. These frail seniors are moved to the short-stay beds in long-term care homes on a temporary basis, and return to their homes once their condition is less acute or the family is ready and able to care for them again.
"Short-stay beds can help provide support and relief at critical moments for family caregivers," said Stewart.
As well, the Minister's intent to make direct investments in supplies and specialized equipment like new lifts to provide safer and higher quality care for residents with complex conditions is also timely.
"This speaks to an increasingly important theme that is emerging as policymakers look more closely at how we care for an aging population," said Stewart. "And that is government has a role to play not just in flowing funding and measuring outcomes, but also in making direct strategic interventions and taking practical, common-sense steps to improve consistency, quality, access, and sustainability in the delivery of healthcare."
Stewart added that SEIU Healthcare looks forward to working with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and other stakeholders on the implementation of the initiatives announced by the Minister today.
About SEIU Healthcare
SEIU Healthcare is the largest and fastest growing union in the Canada, representing more than 50,000 healthcare and community services workers across Ontario. SEIU Healthcare members work in hospitals, home care, nursing and retirement homes and community services throughout the province. SEIU Healthcare has a strong track record of improving wages, benefits and working conditions for healthcare workers, supporting the training and development needs of its members, and strengthening standards in the management and delivery of patient and client care.
SOURCE: SEIU Healthcare
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