Tag Archives: MUSH sector

Who do you complain to? New regulation expands complaints process but also adds confusion

Making a complaint within a health care setting has always been a delicate process.

It used to be in home care the terms of your service suggested that if you complained too much, you could actually lose service.

This may not have necessarily changed. We recently heard from a reader who suggested that complaints he made about the rushed nature of his wife’s home care resulted in a scaling back of service. Suddenly the respite care they received was reduced from once a week to every other week. How any individual could ever reasonably prove such cause and effect remains an open question.

Similarly in Ontario’s nursing homes a complaint can affect the relationship a resident has with staff who do provide care. For the frail elderly, this can be intimidating. It is therefore surprising that more than 2,000 complaints come into the provincial hotline each year that require subsequent investigation by an inspector.

When the province introduced the Excellent Care for All Act in 2010, hospitals were required to put in place practices for handling patient complaints. That includes reviewing and resolving complaints made by patients and caregivers, recording and monitoring key information about the complaints, and informing the complainant of the results of such a review.

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A bad month for transparency and accountability

Private member bills seldom get passed at the legislature. Perhaps it was for that reason Bill 183 received little attention after the Liberal majority defeated it May 5th.

The NDP authored Bill was intended to expand the scope of the Ombudsman to include universities, colleges, hospitals, long-term care homes, school boards, children’s aid societies, and retirement homes. The Bill would have also given the Ombudsman an oversight role over the independent police review director.

Ontario is unique in barring the ombudsman from investigations into these sectors.

The Liberals argued in the legislature that these bodies already have sufficient oversight. In the case of hospitals, they argued hospital boards and LHINs provide this role. However, hospital boards and LHINs are decision-makers, and as such, have an interest in defending those decisions.

In fact, most LHINs have a staff of about 30 or slightly more. They also have about 200 health care providers to which they negotiate and sign accountability agreements. They are responsible for community engagement, funding, integration decisions, managing projects, as well as collecting and assessing key health care indicators. They are responsible for developing integrated health service plans for their regions. The thought that they could do all this and provide reasonable oversight to investigate complaints by individuals into hospital or long term care homes is absurd.

Surely the Liberals understand this.

However, the McGuinty government has been stung by a number of scandals, many of them health-related. Let’s not forget e-Health. The Ombudsman’s report on the LHINs, “The LHIN Spin,” was undoubtedly fresh in their mind as they contemplated this private member’s bill.

Together with Schedule 15 of Bill 173 (see related articles), it has not been a good month for transparency and accountability in the province of Ontario.

For the record, these were the MPPs in the legislature who voted down Bill 183:

Laura Albanese, Wayne Arthurs, Bas Balkissoon, Lorenzo Berardinetti, Margarett Best, Laurel Broten, Vic Dhillon, Kevin Flynn, Helena Jaczek, Kuldip Kular, Monte Kwinter, Amrit Mangat, Reza Moridi, Leeanna Pendergast, Gerry Phillips, Shafiq Qaadri, Khalil Ramal, Lou Rinaldi, Tony Ruprecht, Liz Sandals, Mario Sergio, and Charles Sousa.