In BC they have a ratings system for residential care homes, or what we would refer to as “long-term care” homes in Ontario. The ratings look at complaints and critical incidents and determine whether a home is low, medium or high hazard. The hazard rating determines how often the home will be inspected. A high hazard home in BC can count on a surprise inspection about every three months.
In Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews would simply rather not know.
She has too few inspectors, and the complaint and critical incident inspections are taking way too long – a point the Ombudsman made in 2010. The more in-depth resident quality inspections are taking so long it will take more than five years to fully inspect all the homes, that is “if” they get inspected at all.
Health Minister Deb Matthews talks about zero tolerance of neglect and abuse in Ontario’s nursing homes. Her actions would suggest the opposite.
Yesterday Matthews said that inspection of long-term care homes will be based on complaints and critical incidents only. If the home doesn’t get complaints or critical incidents go unreported, it doesn’t get inspected.
This is despite a requirement in the Long Term Care Homes Act that requires an annual inspection of each home.
Jane Meadus of the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly says the intent of the Act was that each home would receive an annual resident quality inspection (RQI) – a detailed inspection conducted by a team of specialists, including an RN, a dietitian and an environmental inspector. An RQI can take as long as 17 days to conduct.
It could take more than five years before all of Ontario’s nursing homes receive a full inspection by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. Further, the complaints hotline overwhelmed inspection teams with 2,719 complaints last year, leaving many families to wait anywhere from 30 days to a year to get their complaint investigated.
Inspectors say that it is taking so long to investigate that they are sometimes arriving to find the resident who issued the complaint has passed away.
The 2007 Long Term Care Homes Act was meant to address incidents of abuse and neglect in Ontario’s nursing homes, but the government is considering any visit to the home an “annual inspection,” even if it is only for a specific complaint. Prior to 2010, homes were subject to a full inspection of all programs and services.
Each office of the Long Term Care Unit presently has an informal goal of completing two “resident quality inspections” (RQI) per month. RQIs are the new version of what used to be considered an annual inspection. That means the province has a goal of conducting 120 RQIs per year. Ontario has 630 licensed nursing homes.