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Vulnerable seniors with complex health care problems need more staff not less

A Fraser Health Authority document obtained by health care unions proposes cutting corners on seniors’ care at five long-term care facilities by replacing Registered Nurses with Licensed Practical Nurses in a bid to cut costs. And the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) and the B.C. Nurses’ Union say the scheme is a further sign that the Campbell government and their health authorities are taking a giant step backwards in their approach to caring for the frail elderly.

“There’s a deepening staffing crisis in long-term care that cries out for the skills and experience of LPNs,” says Hospital Employees’ Union secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “More of these skilled nursing professionals are needed - but as part of a team that includes RNs rather than as their replacements.”

BCNU president Debra McPherson says: “It’s shows just how out of touch this government and the FHA are with the changing care needs in nursing homes. “Cuts to home support and a diminishing supply of long-term and extended care beds mean residents have care needs that are more complex than ever before. We need more LPNs but firing RNs is a reckless move that puts seniors at risk.”

While scopes of practice for LPNs, RNs and Registered Psychiatric Nurses overlap, the complex nursing needs and unstable health status of many of those in residential care require the nursing skills of RNs and RPNs.

The health authority document obtained by the health care unions calls for “staffing transition” at Mission Extended Care Unit, MSA Extended Care Unit, Fraser Hope Lodge, Chilliwack Extended Care Unit and Heritage Village. At least 60 LPNs are slated to replace RNs who will in turn be laid off.

“It’s another case of balancing the books on the backs of the most vulnerable in society,” adds McPherson. “It’s as if the Campbell government believes seniors are disposable. If they die, they won’t cost money. And that can’t be allowed to happen.”


Debra McPherson, President, BC Nurses Union
604-209-4253 (cell)
Mike Old, HEU communications officer
604-828-6771 (cell)

The FHA document is attached to this release, in electronic format, at heu.org or bcnu.org