A provincial consultation on dementia care announced yesterday by the Ontario government “looks good on paper. But it’s yet another stall and a tactic to delay action on providing tens of thousands of long-term care residents and home care patients living with dementia, the higher level of care they need today, not down the road,” say registered practical nurses (RPNs) and personal support workers (PSWs) in London this week attending their annual conference.

Nearly 7 in 10 residents in Ontario long-term care homes have some form of cognitive impairment, thousands of them are living with dementia.

“More discussion is not what long-term care residents living with dementia need. They need action by the province to bring in a legislated daily care standard now,” says Amanda Farrow-Giroux an RPN from North Bay. She was among the more than 250 delegates at the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) health care workers conference in London, who today called for non-partisan cooperation between Ontario’s elected parties to support legislation mandating a four-hour care standard similar to the Time to Care Act (Bill 188), a private members Bill introduced last spring.

There is considerable academic research that shows care levels for residents in nursing homes must increase and that residents with dementia would benefit. Front line staff and residents’ families have consistently called on the province to mandate in legislation a four-hour daily care level.

“This is something the Ontario Liberals when first elected in 2003 said that they would do. But they broke that promise. There has been virtual silence from them on improving care levels something that would benefit residents living with dementia immensely. The Liberals’ refusal to increase LTC care to a bare minimum is a major barrier to decent care,” says Candace Rennick CUPE Ontario’s secretary-treasurer.

A focus of this dementia strategy consultation is home care. CUPE has consistently urged the health minister to reinvest in hospital care, particularly for seniors with chronic health conditions and to “fix the haphazard, privatized home care non-system. It’s based on low wages and precarious hours for exploited workers who are mostly women. It has to go,” says Michael Hurley president of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).