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Prince Albert:  Contrary to the health region’s claims, most research studies focusing on the impact of shift work in the health sector have concluded that patient care and continuity of care improves with 12-hour shifts instead of eight-hour shifts.

CUPE Local 4777 President Carol McKnight called on the health region “to scrap its proposed plan” to move to eight-hour shifts at Herb Basset Home in light of these findings. “Our health care system is supposed to operate on evidence-based research,” says McKnight. “Given most research studies are finding that 12-hour shifts improve patient care, that’s the model we should be using.”

Earlier this year, the health region announced a controversial plan to change the shifts for special care aides working in three long-term care facilities – the Herb Bassett Home, Mont St. Joseph Home and Pineview Terrace Lodge – from 12 hours to eight hours. It intended to make the change effective September 20, without any consultation with staff.

The proposed plan, which generated a storm of protest among CUPE health care providers, has been put on hold by two of the health facilities, but Herb Basset Home says it will proceed with the proposal – despite widespread opposition from special care aides.

The employer originally claimed research showed the shorter shift improved patient care. But the employer’s research was superficial at best, as it appears to be based on a Google search that included only one health research study,” says CUPE researcher Cheryl Stadnichuk.

A thorough review of the literature conducted by Stadnichuk over the last two months found that most of the research studies focusing on the impact of shift work in the health sector concluded the 12-hour shifts “improved patient care and continuity of care.” (Download a copy of “CUPE’s Literature Review of Shift Rotations and Patient Care” at: cupe.ca)
The research surveys also found the vast majority of health workers supported the longer shift – stating it had a positive impact on their physical and psychological well being.

CUPE special care aides working in Prince Albert’s three long-term care facilities also support the longer shifts.  Of the 176 special care aides who participated in a union-sponsored vote on the issue in April, 98.2% cast their ballots in support of the 12-hour shift rotations; only 1.7% supports an eight-hour shift.

The union has criticized the employer for refusing to consult with health care providers about the change.

The vote clearly shows our members want to have a say in decisions that impact their work lives,” McKnight said following the vote. “And who can blame them? Shift work has an enormous impact on our members and their families.”

McKnight says CUPE members are committed to quality improvement and would welcome the opportunity to share their ideas with the health region and administrators at Herb Basset Home. “We already have offered to work with the health region to reduce the use of overtime and decrease the rate of staff injuries,” she says.

McKnight says there are many areas where our health care system can be improved. “That’s where we need to focus our attention and energy,” she says, rather than on making unnecessary changes to shift rotations.

CUPE Local 4777 represents about 1,700 special care aides and other health care providers across the health region.
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For more information contact:  Carol McKnight at 961-1994
Cheryl Stadnichuk at 525-5874