TORONTO, April 6, 2020 /CNW/ - The tens of thousands of elderly and vulnerable residents who call long-term care (LTC) facilities their home must be protected from COVID-19 using all health and safety measures necessary, demands Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) President Vicki McKenna, RN.
"Our long-term care residents have lived in and supported this province for most of their lives. They are the heart and soul of Ontario, and have put in years of endless hard work to make Ontario strong and vibrant," notes McKenna. "Now is the time for Ontario to take tireless efforts to protect them."
"We must ensure appropriate staffing, evidence-based infection control protections, and safe working conditions in long-term care. This would be the start to protecting our residents."
Working conditions in some long-term care homes are abysmal, McKenna says. "In some homes, there is limited personal protective equipment (PPE) for health-care workers, and many homes are reporting that they are running out of much-needed supplies. It's horrifying." In addition, government must ensure directives regarding proper PPE are clear, proactive and updated to also apply to nurses in long-term care homes. "Administrative support to train staff and proper controls must be in place. If nurses are not safe, our residents are not safe," McKenna says.
In addition, it is very common for nurses and health-care professionals to work in multiple LTC homes. "This piecemeal approach with casual and part-time workers coming in and out of various homes is very unsafe in this pandemic. Workers in long-term care must have the right to work in one home with full-time hours and work with the same residents. This approach is also best for our residents and decreases the impact of any potential spread of COVID-19."
"Registered nurses have clinical judgement, and know about safe infection prevention and control practices. The COVID-19 pandemic is not slowing down in long-term care; in fact it's speeding up," McKenna says. "If volunteers and unskilled workers are brought in to long-term care homes to help, we must ensure that they are supported and trained. We call on the government to take immediate action and provide mandatory direction on infection control training for long-term care workers and ensure a continuous supply of PPE. Our residents in long-term care deserve this and should expect no less."
ONA is calling for proper PPE in long-term care. More than 15,000 people have sent in their support through ONA's targeted emailer (www.ona.org/ppe) calling on the government to ensure health-care workers have access to PPE. More actions will be rolled out in the coming days.
ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.
SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association
For further information: Katherine Russo, 647-539-1925; [email protected]