Chronic understaffing and increasing workload are two of the most pressing issues in health care. CUPE 5430 member and Region 1 facility representative Sid Hall has seen the impact of both issues on patient care and health care workers first hand.
Hall is a Continuing Care Aid at River Heights Lodge in Battleford, SK and a Battlefords Area Representative for the union. He represents both River Heights Lodge and the Battlefords District Care Centre.
Hall consistently observed that staff had challenges meeting the many needs of residents in a timely manner. There just wasn’t enough time or enough people to provide the quality of care residents deserve.
“If health care is about putting residents first, you need to look at the time you have to care for each resident,” said Hall. For example, River Heights has two wings - one with 45 patients and one with 55 patients. There are eight staff per wing during the day, but at night this number is reduced to two staff plus one nurse for each wing.
“We only have 6 or 7 minutes per resident to get residents ready for breakfast in the morning. If something happens to a resident, or if someone is having challenges, your time is reduced for the next patient. When you get to the end of the line, someone is getting cold breakfast,” said Hall. “The issues are worse when we are working short.”
Hall is clear on the root cause of the problem.
“There is simply not enough staff. Every care aid and every CUPE representative is going through the same thing (regarding workload).”
Hall has been a tireless advocate for addressing workload for years. Finally, his hard work is starting to pay off. Hall has gotten facility management on board through quarterly meetings, and there has been extra capacity added at each facility - 6.5 hours daily at River Heights Lodge and a full-time position at Battlefords District Care Centre.
There is more work to be done. Lack of provincial funding continues to hamper efforts to increase staffing.
“The government needs to come around and visit the care homes. They need to see what these residents go through every day,” said Hall. “Maybe if they experienced the situation first hand, they would take more action.”