Operation Maple: Lack of inspection, staffing a cocktail for disaster in Ontario’s nursing homes

Ontario has too few staff caring for residents in its long-term care homes. Coupled with too few inspectors — most homes have not had a detailed inspection since 2009 — it is a cocktail for disaster. How many scandals will it take before the province keeps its words and really protects some of our most vulnerable citizens?

OPSEU’s Rick Janson speaks about the lack of staffing and inspection at Ontario’s long-term care homes in this new Operation Maple video. Also featured is OPSEU member Tamara Lazic, who speaks about her grandmother’s last days in one of these homes.

8 responses to “Operation Maple: Lack of inspection, staffing a cocktail for disaster in Ontario’s nursing homes

  1. In the early 70’s when I worked for an Ottawa radio station news department I looked into extended care nursing homes in the capital. What I found was shocking. That led me to delve into the Ontario Extended Care Nursing Home Act and regulations to explore the stipulated minimum standards of care. Then I explored the standards prescribed by the Canadian penitentiary service and mandated by the Geneva Conventions for prisoners of war. Both were far higher than Ontario’s nursing care standards. In fact, the Ontario minima could even be considered war crimes if applied to prisoners of war. I also concluded that for a destitute senior without family support, penitentiary could be a far better outcome.

  2. I agree with much of what has been said, especially about the shortage of staff. My experience with for-profit homes does not match this story, however, because the one we are involved with has higher standards of care than most, because of the quality of the top management. They show true leadership, and that makes the difference. The money is the same–they are required to spend exactly the same as the not-for-profit homes on all aspects of resident care, but leadership makes the difference in attitude of staff, and the caring atmosphere that can exist in a LTC home, however the home is owned. This part of his talk is a red herring and detracts from his very real concerns in other areas.

  3. Thanks for your comments. Regarding for-profit beds: while there are bound to be exceptions, most studies in both the U.S. and Canada show that for-profit homes usually have less staffing than their not-for-profit counterparts, In Ontario there has been much discussion of what can come out of the nursing funding envelope. Only profit can be taken from the accommodations envelope. To increase the return to shareholders/owners, there has been concern that expenses that normally should be charged to accommodations are instead taken from the nursing envelope, leaving less money for direct care. Ontario has recently increased the flexibility by which homes can allocate money from their funding envelopes, which would suggest that for-profit homes would have more flexibility to do this.

  4. Denyse B. Lynch

    My Dad’s FP LTC has a very good top management team doing many of the right things. However, they lack the time & staff to observe all support workers’ level of competency in carrying out “daily-care” activities for residents. Quality and consistency of “how activities are carried out” is critical for seniors’ health and well-being. It is only when something occurs e.g. a UTI, that is then traceable as to “why” it occurred. If “all” support workers do not consistently AND accurately carry out each resident’s “care plan” inevitably a problem shows up in that resident’s mental or physical condition. The problem then has to be remedied or, sadly, death occurs as a result. Emotional and financial costs are high.
    I make almost daily visits to my Dad that enable me to observe, ask questions about tasks I see or, are absent for my Dad’s care and/or his neighbours. I also engage additional help to compensate for the LTC’s lack of staff and time that my Dad requires for mental stimulation and emotional support as I cannot be there 24/7. Do his resident neighbours who have no one to advocate/observe on their behalf deserve less?

  5. I can easily believe that the for profit nursing homes have less staff than their not-for-profit counterparts. My moms’ situation is different but indicative of how for-profit senior care is focussed on the $.
    She is in an expensive retirement residence which has cut staff dramatically. At this point the person in charge of the alzheimer’s wing is expected to do laundry in the night in another wing. And I know that they “staff up” on weekends when more visitors than usual are spending time with residents. This is to improve the optics. Staff cannot discuss this because their jobs are in jeopardy.
    On top of this they are raising the care fees by 140%. This is a completely unregulated area. And at the same time CCAC is providing assistance to some residents and taking money from the public system to make up for the low levels of staff

  6. Retirement residences and Long-term care are two different universes. The good news (and we do need a little!) is that new regulations are coming down to help regulate them, but the problem is a lot bigger than the government realizes. The whole business of smoke detectors in retirement homes is one of the most sickening parts of it. Over 30 years ago coroners were demanding that they be made mandatory, and they still aren’t in all the homes.

  7. Charles, I believe that you are referring to “automatic fire sprinklers” as any residential occupancy that has sleeping accomodation for more than 10 persons requires a fire alarm system, and “smoke detectors” are part of a fire alarm system.

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