Long Term Care “Light”
“What are the ingredients in that?” my friend asked me as I proceeded to layer
my popcorn with copious amounts of white cheddar popcorn seasoning. “I don’t
know, and I don’t want to know,” I answered. “Just let me enjoy my snack and
feel good about it.” Every day we are forced to make decisions about how much
we want to know about a given issue. Sometimes we choose to remain ignorant.
By not knowing, I could still feel good about myself and my choices.
The Ministry of Health is taking the same approach to ministry investigations of
long term care homes. Just three years following its very public vow to do more to
protect nursing home residents, the Ontario government decided to quietly scale
back its in-depth inspections at Ontario’s 600+ long term care homes. Rather than
the mandated yearly in-depth inspection, homes will receive an in-depth inspection
only once every three years and “light” inspections the other two years.
What’s the reason for this scaling back? Is it because things are humming along
beautifully in our long term care homes and inspections are unnecessary? No the
exact opposite. Inspectors were stretched so thin that investigations into
critical incidents and complaints were delayed by months. So many issues were
brought to light by the inspections that the ministry did not have the resources
to deal with them all. “Backlog of inspections triggered by complaints and critical
incidents doubled between December 2013 and March 2015, from 1,300 to 2,800,”
Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk wrote last year.
It seems the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s approach to the safety and
wellbeing of our seniors is the same as my approach to snacking. They’d rather
not know the truth. The less they investigate, the less they’ll find. That way they
can still feel good about themselves and the choices they’ve made. Only in this
case, it will be our seniors who suffer.