Tag Archives: Judith Wahl

Retirement homes in conflict of interest over abuse line — ACE

Have a complaint about abuse at a retirement home? The telephone line you are required to call is operated by the trade association run by the retirement homes – a conflict of interest according to the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly (ACE).

This spring the Ontario government introduced a new Retirement Homes Act, promising to immediately enact provisions to protect seniors living in these homes from abuse.

While the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) is being set up as part of that Act, the public is being advised to call the Complaints Response and Information Service line (CRIS).

The CRIS line is operated by the Ontario Retirement Community Association (ORCA), the private sector trade association for retirement home operators. That means if you have a complaint about a retirement home, you have to take it back to the advocates for that home. 

ACE is concerned that CRIS will continue to operate the line after this initial set up period, triaging complaints and deciding what gets forwarded on to the independent authority responsible for licensing and inspecting retirement homes.

“ACE has raised this concern with the Office of the Minister Responsible for Seniors given that what is considered abuse and neglect may be different from the perspective of the operators of the CRIS line, the tenants (residents) of the homes, the home operators, and the Authority,” writes Judith Wahl, executive director of ACE in the centre latest newsletter.

ACE is also asking questions about whether complaints to the CRIS line operators will be required to be kept confidential from ORCA – the operator’s employer.

ACE is calling for an independent call line to be maintained directly by the regulator authority, and not by the trade association.

Retirement homes have become more populated with seniors with higher levels of acuity in the absence of available spaces in Ontario’s regulated nursing home sector.

Retirement homes are also being used by hospitals to off-load “alternate level of care” patients who are unable to go home on a short-term basis. The government says they are protecting these patients by applying the Long Term Care Act to these specific beds.

Good discharge laws badly practiced for long term care

The laws governing hospital discharge and admission into long term care (LTC) homes are good but they are badly practiced by hospitals, says Judith Wahl, the Executive Director and Senior Lawyer at the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly (ACE).

Speaking in Toronto June 20th at the High-Level Briefing and Summit on Retirement Homes and Alternate Level of Care (ALC), Wahl was critical of practices that violated existing legislation, calling them unethical.

Some hospital discharge policies include statements that if a person refuses to pick from their short list of nursing homes they must take the first available bed that becomes available or face punitive fees.

An elderly patient was threatened with $1,800-a-day fees from a Toronto area hospital, and a Windsor hospital threatened to charge $600 a day if a patient refused to take the first open bed in a nursing home.

Wahl says it is her opinion that this is illegal.

Hospitals are permitted to charge $53 a day. That rate is also subject to a rate reduction under the Health Insurance Act.

The Long Term Act, passed into legislation in 2010, now makes Community Care Access Centers directly responsible for placement of individuals into long term care, not the hospital.

The CCAC must determine eligibility, assist with the application, and confirms requirements for choice of LTC homes for that person.

The legislation also states that patients can choose up to five homes and is not required to go into a nursing home unless he or she consents. Consent must be informed and voluntary, with fair representation.

Wahl says the Public Hospitals Act (PHA) and Health Insurance Act (HIA) further ensure that on discharge, patients cannot be abandoned even if they have completed their acute care treatment.

For patients and their families that need long term care they must to be aware of their rights on discharge from hospitals.

The Long Term Care Homes Act ensures that patients have the right to choose his or her own care.