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Elderly and frail residents in two Peterborough 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 government, according to data compiled by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario. CUPE found that, at St. Joseph’s at Fleming and Fairhaven Home, residents are receiving an average of about 2.25 hours of hands-on care a day.

Information obtained from the health ministry by CUPE shows that the government’s assessment of a 2.9 hour average standard of care is based on all hours paid to workers. This 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 staff on vacation or away are not delivering hands-on care, yet those hours are being captured in the government’s calculations.

CUPE Ontario has based its Peterborough 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.

Based on CUPE’s data, residents at St. Joseph’s and Fairhaven are receiving an average of 2.25 hours and 2.28 hours of hands-on care per day respectively, far short of the 2.9 hour average that the provincial government claims. CUPE Ontario is advocating for an average standard of hands-on care of 3.5 hours per day per resident, the goal set by Alberta, New Brunswick and Manitoba.

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.”

According to Candace Rennick, CUPE Ontario Vice-President and a worker at St. Joseph’s at Fleming, the additional staffing under a 3.5 hour standard would make a huge difference in the hands-on care received by Peterborough’s long-term care residents. “More staff on the night shift would mean we could move from a completely unacceptable staff ratio of two workers for 50 residents to something more appropriate,” said Rennick. “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.”

Ryan added that, in addition to Peterborough, CUPE Ontario will be releasing data on other homes in a sampling of communities across Ontario. 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 
Candace Rennick      CUPE Ontario Vice-President         705-768-2288