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REGINA The Ombudsman report on seniors care highlights an issue CUPE members have been struggling with for years – ensuring that long term care facilities have adequate staff in place to ensure seniors receive quality care.

“The complexity of care has changed dramatically in long term care. Years ago residents in facilities were somewhat mobile and able to do things for themselves. That is no longer the case,” said Gordon Campbell, president of CUPE’s Saskatchewan Health Care Council. “Residents need assistance with getting dressed, bathing, eating, and toileting. A high number suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

“The government must improve staffing levels at long term care facilities. Our members are doing the best they can with limited time,” Campbell added. “With the current staffing levels, our members barely have time to take care of residents’ basic needs and have no time to support their emotional and social needs.”

Many members working in long term care facilities report that staff is not replaced when on sick leave or other short term leave.

“This adds to workload and impacts their ability to deliver quality care. The government should abandon its directive to health regions to save money by not replacing staff. This policy is making the situation worse,” said Campbell.

CUPE is recommending that the government implement a minimum care standard to ensure adequate staffing levels to meet the needs of patients.

“The Ministry of Health guidelines are vague and are not enforced,” said Campbell. “We need a legislated minimum of four hours of care per resident per day. This will ensure our members provide the care that our seniors need and deserve.

“We would like to echo the Ombudsman’s recommendation that the government conduct a consultation process to develop a fulsome long term care strategy with the involvement of all stakeholders,” added Campbell.

CUPE is the largest health care union in Saskatchewan, representing over 13,600 members. Many of CUPE’s members work in long term care facilities, including Santa Maria Senior Citizens Home.