TORONTO – Claudia George front line staff at a Toronto nursing home where a resident was killed by another resident in 2013, today urged Ontario’s health minister to intervene immediately to stop a 200 hour a week cut to resident care at the home. At a Queen’s Park media conference, George cautioned that The Wexford Residence, a 166 bed home is already operating at “bare bones staffing levels. Cutting care hours and personal support workers, will undermine resident care and their safety.”
Furthermore George who has worked at the nursing home for over 30 years, called on the health minister to improve resident safety and the quality and level of care for all nursing home residents by making a four hour a day care standard law in Ontario.
Tom Carrothers with the Family Council (Network 4) and Candace Rennick, secretary-treasurer with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, joined George for the media conference.
For nearly two decades the complexity of care needs of nursing home residents – many of who are over 85-years old, has increased tremendously, said Rennick. But care levels have not kept pace with the residents’ complex medical needs. “Many residents are too frail to walk or eat on their own, while others need help being toileted.”
According the Ontario health ministry’s own public records the Wexford has a far higher percentage of residents with worsening bladder control – 40.8 per cent of residents – compared to the provincial average of 19.5 per cent. The ministry numbers for 2013-14 also show that the percentage of Wexford residents who were physically restrained is higher than the provincial average.
“Cutting PSWs will only hasten incontinence for residents at the Wexford. Surely the health minister does not want that,” said Rennick.
Data shows that between 2008 and 2012 the proportion of residents in nursing homes with disease diagnosis increased for every category of disease. Over 75 per cent of residents have a cognitive impairment. Dementia is widespread, with one in four residents suffering from severe dementia.
Rennick a former long-term care worker herself, flagged that the province’s drastic health reforms are part of the problem.
Today over 80 per cent of new resident admissions to nursing homes have high clinical needs. Less than 1 per cent of residents are in the low and mild clinical needs category. This is because, said Rennick, “care that was previously provided in complex care hospital beds with higher staffing levels has been downloaded onto LTC homes as over 18,000 hospital beds have been closed in less than two decades. Soon all residents admitted to nursing homes will be from the highest needs categories. But the staffing levels are too low to provide the kind of care these residents need.”
CUPE represents over 30,000 PSWs, registered practical nurses, registered nurses, activationist, dietary, housekeeping and other staff working in long-term care across Ontario.
CUPE Ontario is currently working on an amendment to the Long-Term Care Act that would make a four hour daily care standard for residents the law.
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