Managing scarcity can be very time consuming.
Ontario has been wrestling with rules around managing the shortage of long-term care beds, trying to find ways to meet sometimes contradictory objectives of freeing up hospital beds, reuniting spouses, accommodating veterans, prioritizing crisis placements and placing people on the wait list based on their assessment scores.
While the province is not shy about sharing their success in having recently reduced such waits, the Auditor General of Ontario (AG) is clear about the reason why – new criteria for admission is excluding between seven and 12 per cent of nursing home applicants. Unless the province is planning on continually tightening eligibility, the short-term wait list reduction is likely a one-time event.
The average length of stay in a long-term care home is about three years – that means about 25,000 of 76,000 beds become available each year. 32,000 people are on wait lists for their preferred nursing home. 40 per cent of those on that list are already in a long-term care bed but are still waiting to get into the home of their choice. According to the 2012 Auditor’s report, about 15 per cent die waiting to get into a home at all.