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Elderly and frail residents in three Niagara Falls area long-term care homes are receiving less hands-on care on a daily basis than the 2.9 hours per resident being touted by the provincial Health Minister according to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario. The union’s data into standards of care at a charitable, municipal, and privately-owned home indicates that residents are receiving an average of about 2.4 hours of hands-on care a day.

Information obtained from the Ministry by CUPE shows that the government’s assessment of a 2.9 hour average standard of care is based on hours paid to workers—which includes those on vacation or ill or on short-term leave—rather than actual hours worked. According to the union, that approach is misleading because people on vacation or away for other reasons are not delivering hands-on care, yet those hours are being captured in the Ministry’s calculations. CUPE Ontario has based its Niagara data on actual hours worked. Like the government, it tracked all hands-on care provided by Registered Nurses (RNs), Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs), Personal Support Workers (PSWs) and RN Unit Managers even though the latter do not necessarily provide hands-on bedside care.

According to the union’s data, residents at a local charitable home are receiving an average of 2.32 hands-on care. Residents at the municipal home are receiving an average of 2.55 hours of hands-on care, while residents at the privately-operated home in the area are receiving 2.36 hours of care. All are far short of the 2.9 hour Ministry average.

That’s a significant difference that has huge consequences for the level of hands-on care that seniors and loved ones are receiving in these homes,” said CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan at a media conference today. “The Minister is not only using a misleading formula based on hours paid; our analysis shows that there is still a gap in hands-on care beyond the comparison to actual hours worked that the Liberal government hasn’t accounted for.”

CUPE Ontario has advocated for an average standard of care of 3.5 hours per day per resident, the goal set by Alberta, New Brunswick and Manitoba. According to Sue Schmidt, Chair of the CUPE Ontario Health Care Workers Coordinating Committee, the additional staffing under a 3.5 hour standard would make a huge difference in the hands-on care received by Niagara’s long-term care residents. “It would also mean more hands-on resources to assist residents with their continence needs so they wouldn’t be forced to soil themselves in brief products,” said Schmidt.

Ryan added that, in addition to Niagara, CUPE Ontario will be releasing data on other homes in a sampling of communities right across the province. He said that a provincial report on standards of care on long-term care facilities that does not set a minimum average standard of hands-on care at 3.5 hours is short-changing quality of life improvements for residents in homes.

For more information, contact:

Sid Ryan             CUPE Ontario President                                               416-209-0066
Sue Schmidt        Chair, Health Care Workers Coordinating Committee   905-401-0966 
Valerie Dugale     CUPE Communications                                                647-225-3685