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A health-care worker waits to screen staff and visitors entering an LTC home in the Peterborough area. TORSTAR FILE PHOTO

Why is the Ford government making long-term care homes more like jails?

Dr. Ellen Badone's article, published in the Hamilton Spectator in February, highlights the conditions in long term care homes in Ontario, and what the provincial government should be doing to combat the problem. Interviewing relatives of long-term-care residents, registered nurses (RNs), personal support workers (PSWs), and long-term-care administrators via zoom, those affected most by the Covid-19 pandemic report prison-like conditions. Dr. Badone questions the government’s recent allocation of $42 million to hire security guards, instead of improving wages for PSWs and increased staffing.

Mar 04, 2021

"As taxpayers, we should demand any new funding provided by the province to long-term care be used to increase the ratio of staff to residents and provide the four hours per day per resident of hands-on care that was promised in the Time to Care Act, Bill 13, in October 2020. Shockingly, there is no legislation about minimum staff-to-resident ratios in long-term care, beyond requiring one RN to be present in a home at all times, regardless of the number of residents in the home. This means that each long-term-care operator can decide on the number of PSWs to hire. Likewise, each operator can set the compensation rate for PSWs, and in most homes, this is only slightly higher than minimum wage".

"We know from last spring’s military report that staff shortages made conditions in some Ontario long-term-care homes horrific during the first wave of the pandemic. These are not isolated exceptions. Surveys conducted in November and December 2020 by the Ontario Health Coalition in long-term care homes with COVID outbreaks of more than 10 people found that 65 per cent of front-line workers reported insufficient staffing for the provision of adequate daily care. Personal hygiene was at the top of the list of care that had to be sacrificed. Front-line staff reported struggling to feed and hydrate all their residents and to provide medications in a timely manner. Inadequate numbers of cleaning and laundry staff made infection control and the provision of clean linens for residents a challenge."

View the whole article here.