Fixing long term care not one of health minister’s choices either

It only took a day to dash hopes that Ontario was finally going to take significant measures to improve long-term care.

The Long Term Care Task Force on Resident Care and Safety made 18 recommendations Wednesday to improve care and reduce incidents of abuse in the province’s nursing homes.

The task force was created after Health Minister Deb Matthews called sector leaders into her office after the latest feature series in the Toronto Star detailed fresh cases of resident abuse.

After weeks of telling us that hospitals and doctors had to be cut in order to make choices, Matthews is now saying there is no money at this time for long-term care either.

Clearly this is not about choices. It’s about cutting health care and leaving some of the most vulnerable in a state of distress.

Fixing long-term care will not be cheap, but it is the right thing to do. This is something the McGuinty government has forgotten in its race to slash corporate taxes over the last two years and bring even greater austerity to a province that already has the lowest per capita program spending in Canada.

Among the recommendations of the task force:

• Address direct-care staffing needs in the homes;
• Create specialized facilities for residents with complex care needs;
• Develop Ministry coaching teams to assist homes that are poor performers;
• Empower residents and families, including an education strategy;
• Zero tolerance for resident abuse;
• Creation of Quality Committees involving management, frontline staff, residents and families;
• Standardized family and resident satisfaction surveys; and
• Improved training and assessments of competencies required to prevent abuse.

Matthews said she would “look at” creating special units and will move forward on Ministry coaching teams.

Gail Donner, who led the task force, made it clear that it is the public that is going to have move this agenda forward.

She told the Toronto Star: “Everything is about priorities. And I guess this is about how much moral suasion, how much public pressure and sector pressure, can this group of people bring to bear on the fact that this should be a priority of the government.”

Donna Rubin, CEO of the Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors went further, calling for the daily hours of care to be increased from the current 2.93 hours to 4 hours.

While we always welcome comments at Diablogue, we would like to suggest that you make those comments directly to Health Minister Deb Matthews: dmatthews.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Better yet, do both!

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