Long-term care task force
In November, the Toronto Star
investigated various reports of seniors in Ontario nursing homes being verbally assaulted, neglected, physically abused and even raped by staff members that were hired to care for them.
On the following day, after the reports were published, the Long-Term Care Task Force on Resident Care and Safety was established by the Ontario Long Term Care Association, the Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors, the Ontario Association of Residents’ Councils and Concerns Friends of Ontario Citizens in Care Facilities to address the concerns and reported incidents. Six months later, the group published its Action Plan report.
In the opening remarks of the report, a voice of a family member and friend commented on how elders are “looked at coldly” and are unvalued.
“I’d rather talk about how we help ensure the joy and quality of life of all residents in long-term care homes. If the focus was on creating joy for the elderly, not on maintenance or the avoidance of bad things, not on hiring custodians for our elders but actual care-givers, then I don’t believe there would be abuse.”
The study found that there were more than 3,000 incidents that involved abuse or neglect in 2011. The three issues that were most complained about to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care were a failure to comply with a requirement under the Long-Term Care Homes Act (45 percent), improper or incompetent treatment or care of a resident (20.2 percent) and the abuse or neglect of a resident by anyone (16.8 percent).
A large number of residents, family or friends and staff members concurred that these cases may go unreported because of fear by the resident. There was also an agreement of fear that it could impact on the home(s) itself.
To solve many of the issues that plague the long-term care industry, the report made 18 recommendations to improve long-term care based on feedback from approximately 2,000 individuals and groups and interviews with more than 40 subject matter and industry professionals as well as practitioners.
One of the primary recommendations that were made is to make resident care and safety the No. 1 priority for long-term care homes throughout 2012 and the main focus in the future.
“I believe the implementation of this plan will raise awareness of the issues of abuse and neglect and lead to meaningful change," said Dr. Gail Donner, chair of the task force and former Dean and Professor Emerita of the nursing faculty at the University of Toronto.
Some of the key priorities that were recommended are to reduce incidents of abuse and neglect, enhance the ability of staff to be leaders, educating residents to “empower” them and advance skilled administrators and managers.
It also gave the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care recommendations that included addressing direct-care staffing in homes (hiring more people and increase number of full-time positions), initiate coaching teams, support residents with specialized needs and tackle legislation that could be detracting from care.
Although she was not in attendance, Health Minister Deb Matthews issued a statement where she thanked those who were involved and participated in the report.
“I look forward to reviewing the report, and to working together to ensure our long-term care residents receive high quality, dignified care from compassionate staff,” said Matthews, who has made the news once again after a Barry’s Bay woman died because of a long ORNGE ambulance day
The entire report from the task force can be viewed here