A new report from the CUPE Saskatchewan Health Care Council shows that understaffing and workload are critical issues in continuing care in this province.
“There have been many stories in the media about understaffing and the impact on residents, but this report shows the stress this is placing on workers,” said Gordon Campbell, president of the CUPE Health Care Council. “Our members care deeply about their residents and their families, but lack of frontline staff is making it hard to provide the type of care we want to.”
In fall of 2015, CUPE and the CUPE Saskatchewan Health Care Council circulated a survey to members working in five of Saskatchewan’s thirteen health regions. Over 400 members completed the confidential surveys, representing close to 30 per cent of CUPE members working in eleven care facilities selected for the research project. Members recorded their daily work experience over a one week rotation to measure how much our members in continuing care are working short, working overtime, and not able to do all the necessary care responsibilities in a shift.
“Workers shared many stories about the care they provide residents and the results they see when their residents are cared for with dignity, respect, and compassion,” said Campbell. “On the flip side, workers reported feeling frustrated and challenged by staffing levels and a heavy and increasing workload.”
The report highlighted that working short staffed can lead to workers being anxious about the quality of care they are providing and safety risks that both workers and residents face as workloads increase. Workers reported concerns about not being able to respond to residents’ needs in a timely manner, to provide adequate personal care such as bathing, and to provide one-on-one emotional care. Workers also spoke about feeling rushed when performing basic tasks like feeding and toileting.
“Many workers report that they are unable to provide proper personal care for all their residents because workers simply don’t have enough time,” added Campbell. “The current staffing levels in continuing care are simply not enough to meet the needs of a more complicated mix of needs.
“With more staff time, workers can be more attentive and provide better care to their residents. The Government of Saskatchewan needs to take action today to ensure our seniors have access to the care they need.”
CUPE is calling for the government to establish provincially-legislated quality care standard for long term care facilities, including minimum staffing levels.
CUPE is the largest health care union in Saskatchewan, representing over 13,600 members in Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, Sunrise Health Region, Sun Country Health Region, Prairie North Health Region, and Prince Albert Parkland Health Region.
You can read a full copy of the report in the attached PDF document.