Eighty-six per cent of front line workers in long-term care facilities have worked short-handed anywhere from once to 20 times a month when caring for elderly and fail residents of nursing homes, according to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario. The union, which is currently tabulating results from a survey it has conducted among over a thousand CUPE health care workers, says that understaffing means workers are run off their feet to deliver everything from baths to foot care to appropriate food for long-term care residents.
“These workers know that their working conditions become the living conditions of seniors and our loved ones who depend on them,” said CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer Fred Hahn, speaking at a media conference in Windsor today with Ontario health care worker members who have gathered in the city for their annual conference. “Short staffing, that results in over-burdened caregivers, will eventually lead to residents not getting the services they need. We’ve been duped by the McGuinty government. It promised to review and implement a minimum staffing and care level in these facilities eight months ago, but has not.”
Hahn says, that because of insufficient funding, staffing levels are not adequate. Increasingly, employers do not replace workers who are off ill or on vacation, and front line care workers are forced to work short, without a full staff complement.
CUPE Ontario and its members ran a province-wide campaign earlier this year with partners including family organizations and the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) pressing the McGuinty government for minimum standards of staffing and care in long-term care facilities, added Sue Schmidt, chair of CUPE Ontario’s Health Care Workers Coordinating Committee (HCWCC). ”We thought we had won the battle only to see the government renege on its consultation and review of the issue which was promised for last April. Staff are killing themselves to get everything done for their residents. Now, in the middle of an election, the Liberals are again making a promise to review what we had to force them to promise to review eight months ago.”
Twelve years after the Harris Conservative government eliminated standards of care, CUPE Ontario launched a campaign last January pressing for an average of 3.5 hours of care per resident each day. That is the standard in Alberta and the standard that other provinces are striving to achieve. McGuinty had failed to include staffing and care standards in Bill 140, a new law for nursing homes, homes for the aged and rest homes. Last week, Howard Hampton and the NDP made a key commitment to introduce a guaranteed minimum standard of 3.5 hours a day of hands-on nursing and personal care for seniors living in long-term care homes.
For more information, contact:
Valerie Dugale CUPE Communications 647-225-3685
Fred Hahn CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer 416-540-3979
Sue Schmidt Chair, Health Care Workers Coordinating Committee (HCWCC) 905-401-0966