TORONTO — The provincial government should immediately re-introduce minimum standards of care for seniors living in long-term care facilities, and a system to monitor those facilities, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“Years of cutbacks, little or no accountability and a lowering of standards have eaten away at the fabric of the system,” said CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer Brian O’Keefe in a letter to Minister of Health and Long-Term Care George Smitherman. CUPE represents 20,000 workers in nursing homes, homes for the aged, and other long-term care facilities in the province.
A report by independent researchers, commissioned by CUPE and the Service Employees International Union one year after the previous government lifted the requirement for 2.25 hours per resident per day of nursing care, showed a system in turmoil, O’Keefe said. While there were many causes identified, the two key factors that stood out in 1997 were the removal of minimum standards of care and the downloading of sicker patients from hospitals, chronic care facilities, and psychiatric institutions to long-term care facilities.
“We believe the situation has grown dramatically worse in the last six years,” O’Keefe said. CUPE is developing a follow-up survey. In the meantime, CUPE Ontario has called on Smitherman to take immediate steps, including:
- bringing in a new minimum requirement of 3.5 nursing care hours per resident per day, along with funding to ensure adequate staffing
- restoring other long-term care standards eliminated by the previous government, such as providing residents with a bath at least once a week
- introducing an outcome-based monitoring system with provision for data collection and analysis, public accessibility, impartial review and public disclosure of financial statements
- soliciting ongoing input into long-term care policies by health care providers, residents, and their families
- continuing to increase the number of available long-term care beds
- enacting whistle-blower protection for workers in long-term care facilities.
For more information, please contact:
Brian O’Keefe, Secretary-Treasurer CUPE Ontario
Pat Daley, CUPE Communications