Supporting Our Healthcare Heroes
By Hank Beekhuis
Caring for the elderly in Ontario’s long term care homes is a challenging and often thankless task performed by thousands of RNs, RPNs, and personal support workers—the heroes of our healthcare system. Yet the resources available for them to provide dignified care to Ontario seniors have not kept pace with the demands of their jobs and the increasing needs of their residents.
Last year, CLAC worked with our members to diagnose the issues front-line caregivers face and submitted a policy brief to the government. The brief outlined that “for residents, healthcare outcomes are worsening, dignity is diminishing, and incidents of resident-to-resident violence are increasing. Meanwhile, staff are run off their feet facing increasingly complex care, challenging resident behaviours, shrinking resources, and stagnant wages.”
The brief makes two key recommendations for the Ontario government’s 2017 budget:
1. Increase funding by four percent.
In the absence of a legislated minimum standard of care, we propose that the government move forward with a three-year commitment toward a four-percent increase to the nursing and personal care (NPC) envelope. This recommendation would add approximately $70 million to the long term care sector budget and would go directly to adding front-line staff to provide the care our seniors deserve.
2. Eliminate redundant documentation.
This recommendation would seek to remove regulatory requirements that do not impact the necessary reporting or monitoring of patient care but that only serve to take time away from the bedside. We anticipate that this solution will free up time and allow staff to provide more and better quality care to residents.
The brief concludes that, according to a Nanos Research survey, “more than 90 percent of Ontarians are concerned or very concerned about the availability of staffing support for seniors in long term care and about the physical condition of long term care homes in Ontario. More than four in five (82 percent) believe the government needs to invest in long term care now to ensure seniors get the quality care they need. Care is the most important issue to our residents and to Ontario families.
“Adding an annual increase of four percent for the nursing and personal care (NPC) envelope and reducing the administrative burden in favour of more care are a fundamental necessity for the people of Ontario.”
The heroes of our healthcare system and the seniors they care for deserve no less.