TORONTO, Nov. 7, 2017 /CNW/ - A new strategy that promises to bolster Ontario's long-term care (LTC), home care, and primary care sectors is being welcomed by the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) as an important step toward improving the lives of the province's seniors.
Aging with confidence: Ontario's Action Plan for Seniors was introduced on Nov. 7, detailing a comprehensive vision for strengthening health care and improving supports for Ontarians 65 and older – the fastest growing demographic in the province. As part of the action plan, Ontario will seek to reduce waiting lists by creating 5,000 new LTC beds by 2022, and 30,000 over the next decade. Staffing levels in LTC will also be increased to ensure a provincial average of four hours of direct care per resident, per day – a longtime RNAO policy priority aimed at increasing the health outcomes safety and of residents.
"As Ontario increases the amount of LTC beds to accommodate our aging population, we must also ensure we have the right number and mix of staff to deliver high-quality care to a growing number of LTC residents," says RNAO President Carol Timmings.
RNAO has pushed for legislated staffing standards in LTC, including a minimum of one nurse practitioner (NP) for every 120 residents, as well as 20 per cent registered nurses (RN), 25 per cent registered practical nurses (RPN), and no more than 55 per cent personal support workers (PSW) at every nursing home in Ontario. "Evidence shows this is the right combination to promote the health and safety of LTC residents," adds Timmings.
RNAO is also strongly urging the province to review and transform LTC funding models to advance best practices while also accounting for the increased complexity of today's LTC residents. The current funding models penalize homes where resident outcomes are improved through evidence-based practices.
Plans to add 2.6 million more hours of home care services – much of which will be provided by nurses – and improve access to house calls to include provision of care by RNs and NPs will help seniors age healthily in their homes, says RNAO Chief Executive Officer Doris Grinspun. A commitment to increase training opportunities in geriatrics for health-care providers, including NPs, will help seniors live better in the community.
RNAO supports the province's new guidelines for home care assessment and planning based on individual and caregivers needs, and once again urges the province to require that these assessments, which are undertaken at the first home health visit, be conducted by RNs. "Ontario's RNs have the in-depth knowledge and judgment to carry out these assessments and then triage them as appropriate," Grinspun says.
For RNAO, Grinspun says the health and safety of seniors is a top priority. So the association is pleased to see the plan address elder abuse prevention, invest $100 million over three years to improve access to dementia care, and introduce stronger protections for vulnerable seniors through the Office of the Public Guardian. RNAO also welcomes the plan's commitment to ensure every long-term care home in the province has staff with specialized behavioural supports training.
Grinspun says the action plan has the potential to improve quality of life for seniors at all stages. And she says RNs and NPs are eager to fully contribute to ensure all initiatives are implemented in the best way possible.
"As nurses, we always take a holistic approach with our patients, and the strategy introduced today takes a similarly comprehensive approach with Ontario's seniors," Grinspun says. "We look forward to seeing more details in the coming days, so we can ensure our province's seniors will benefit."
RNAO is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the healthcare system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit RNAO.ca or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
SOURCE Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
For further information: To arrange an interview with a nurse, please contact: Daniel Punch, Communications Officer/Writer, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO), 416-408-5605, [email protected]