TORONTO, March 19, 2014 /CNW/ - A coalition of stakeholders in Ontario's long-term care sector is calling on the provincial government to address the increasing incidence of violence in long-term care homes by setting a minimum standard of care to be provided in all facilities.
Members of the recently formed group SAFER (Staffing Alliance for Every Resident) include seniors' advocates, non-profit and for-profit facilities, academic researchers and bargaining agents for nurses and personal support workers. This diverse group is united in calling for a fully funded minimum staffing ratio that will protect residents and support a safe environment.
Jane Meadus, a lawyer with the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly and a member of the SAFER steering committee, said the government has to face the problem of inadequate staffing levels. "There is simply not enough staff to ensure the safety of residents. Because there are more people with dementia who need a higher level of care, there must be an enforced minimum standard of care that operators are required to meet."
SAFER is calling for a fully funded minimum staffing level to be set at four hours of direct care per resident, per day. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care estimates that long-term care homes are currently funded on average to provide 3.4 hours of direct care.
Paul Tuttle, President of Extendicare (Canada) Inc., said conditions in the sector are leading to greater risk of harm. "Due to the government's funding shift toward homecare, which we support as a response to the ageing population, long-term care is becoming the poor cousin in health funding. As people stay at home longer, our sector is seeing more residents with higher needs and a lot more incidents of aggressive behaviour."
Since 2002, the Chief Coroner has reported 29 homicides in Ontario long-term care homes. Recent evidence shows that among a population of about 80,000 residents in long-term care, 61% have a diagnosis of some degree of dementia, 47% have some degree of aggressive behaviour, and 24% have severe or very severe aggressive behaviour.
Beverly Mathers, RN, labour relations manager at the Ontario Nurses' Association, said the situation is urgent. "Nurses and Personal Support Workers are expected to perform extraordinary duties in providing quality care under very stressful conditions. We need a comprehensive approach to staffing and funding that is tied directly to front-line care."
SAFER is working to protect our parents and grandparents and all vulnerable residents, and to ensure a safe working environment for front-line staff.
Image with caption: "SAFER (CNW Group/SAFER)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140319_C5971_PHOTO_EN_38122.jpg
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