OANHSS identifies policy and funding priorities for long term care

    TORONTO, Dec. 6 /CNW/ - Following is an open letter to George Smitherman,
Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, delivered to his office earlier
this week and being publicly released today.
    The letter is from the Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and
Services for Seniors (OANHSS), which represents the not-for-profit long term
care sector in the province.


    December 4, 2007


    Hon. George Smitherman
    Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
    80 Grosvenor Street
    10th Floor, Hepburn Block
    Toronto, Ontario
    M7A 2C4

    Dear Minister Smitherman:

    On behalf of OANHSS and its members that operate more than 27,000 long
term care beds and 5,000 seniors' housing units across the province,
congratulations and best wishes on your reappointment as Minister of Health
and Long-Term Care. We look forward to continuing to work with you in order to
improve the care and quality of life of Ontario's frail elderly.
    In this open letter, we identify what we believe are the most important
objectives to be achieved over the next four years. We recognize that
adjustments may have to be made in response to unforeseen circumstances, but
generally these are the benchmarks by which we will measure progress in our
sector during your government's second mandate.
    We trust that your Ministry will remain focused on these objectives as it
develops funding and policy positions. For our part, we are ready to implement
the needed programs and services.

    Minimum Level of Care

    OANHSS wants to see the level of care increased to an average of three
hours per resident per day - whether or not a specific care standard is
mandated in legislation. By achieving such a benchmark, Ontario will be
catching up to other progressive jurisdictions in the level of care provided
to those living in long term care homes.

    Operating Funding

    OANHSS estimates that operating funding to the sector will have to
increase by $586 million in 2008-2009 in order to support an average of three
hours of care per resident per day noted above and to address other

    Mental Health

    As reported recently in the media, instances of violence and abuse are on
the rise because of the changing needs of the residents. Today, they are older
and require more complex care than even a decade ago. Today, 68 per cent of
residents suffer from dementia or some other form of cognitive impairment. Yet
funding and staffing have not kept pace with these demands. The homes are
finding it increasingly difficult to cope, especially with volatile and
aggressive behaviour for which they are not adequately trained or resourced.
    We need a system-wide, comprehensive strategy to address this growing
problem. Currently, there are few alternate care locations where potentially
violent residents can be transferred. We need specialized units that can care
for those with aggressive behaviours so that other residents and staff in our
homes can live and work in a safe environment.
    In addition, work needs to begin to address other special populations
such as those with developmental disabilities and those with acquired brain
injury (ABI), Huntington's disease and substance abuse issues.

    Aging in Place

    Continuums of care, or campus-like settings that include housing for
seniors in addition to a long term care home were developed with the
encouragement of government, to allow seniors to "age in place" or move to a
higher level of care as their needs require.
    But sadly, this is not always the case under current rules and some are
forced to relocate to another long term care home away from their friends and
even their spouses.
    The province must address this issue in regulations under the new
Long-Term Care Act. Specifically, we are requesting higher priority ranking
for long term care applicants who currently reside on the same campus as the

    New Regulatory Framework

    We are committed to working with the government and your Ministry to
develop the regulations to accompany the Long-Term Care Homes Act. We
certainly support all efforts to enhance standards and ensure full
accountability for the sector, but this should not become such a 'paper
burden' that it has a negative impact on the amount of staff time available
for resident care.

    Support for Not-for-Profit Providers

    Not-for-profit providers have a long history of bringing added value to
long term care and community services in Ontario. Yet there has been a
noticeable erosion of our sector over the last few years, and we will be
looking for concrete action on your government's stated support for
not-for-profit delivery.
    For example, charitable homes that have typically not paid property tax
are starting to attract tax as they have redeveloped. We are seeking an
amendment to the Assessment Act to exempt all not-for-profit homes from paying
property tax, and we would appreciate your support in this effort.
    Capital renewal is another area where we see an immediate need for
special consideration and assistance to support not-for-profits looking to
rebuild under the B & C program and we appreciate your government's
acknowledgement of this need in the program design.
    Much has been accomplished over the past four years, and there is much
still to do. If we can make meaningful progress on this proposed agenda, we're
certain that together we can achieve significant gains for the 78,000
residents in long term care over the next four years.


    Donna A. Rubin
    Chief Executive Officer

For further information:

For further information: Debbie Humphreys, OANHSS, (905) 851-8821 x 233;
Dena Fehir, PR POST, (416) 777-0368

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

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