(Toronto, Ontario - January 29, 2018) - Last Friday, CBC’s Marketplace, a consumer advocacy television show, aired an episode called ‘Crying Out for Care’, which highlighted an unacceptable reality that AdvantAge Ontario has been talking about openly for years: that there are some very serious challenges facing Ontario’s long term care sector.
The province’s not-for-profit long term care homes have always been, and always will be, committed to providing high-quality, respectful and compassionate care to their residents. Homes have zero-tolerance policies regarding abuse or neglect and the expectation is that any such incidents will be reported and dealt with in a swift manner.
Marketplace is a TV show with a mandate to generate public awareness around important issues and topics. However, given that a 30-minute television show cannot get into all of the relevant elements, factors and nuances, viewers should be aware of several important realities:
While media ‘investigations’ like this make for compelling television, history shows they do little to serve as a catalyst for positive change in the system. At the same time, one of the unintended consequences of these stories is that the employees of these homes – the vast majority of whom are exemplary, compassionate nurses and PSWs – are left feeling frustrated and demoralized.
- The increase in the number of incidents reported in long term care homes is due, at least in part, to more stringent reporting requirements, which the sector has advocated for and embraced. Therefore, a higher number of reported incidents does not necessarily reflect a home with worsening conditions. On the contrary, these statistics may be a reflection of a home that reports any and all such incidents in the spirit of resident and staff transparency and safety.
- In some cases, the numbers of reported incidents are extrapolated and, therefore, skewed. For example, data for a 20-bed home with one incident may be converted, for purposes of easier comparison, to a scale of a 100-bed home. As a result, that one ‘real’ incident that took place may be converted into five incidents, four of which did not take place.
- Providing adequate and appropriate care in long term care homes is growing more challenging each year as our population grows and ages and with the rising acuity and complexity of seniors coming into long term care. Six out of every 10 residents suffer from some form of dementia. Of those, over 46% exhibit aggressive behaviours and approximately 9% are considered severely aggressive.
- Funding levels continue to fall far short of what is needed to provide the level and quality of care that residents need and deserve. The provincial government has acknowledged this need with its commitment to increase the provincial average to four hours of direct care per resident per day in Aging with Confidence: Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors.
While the homes are ultimately held accountable, they simply cannot make the systemic changes that are required on their own. This is an incredibly complex problem that deserves sustained attention from the government.
Ontario’s long term care sector is facing massive challenges that need to be addressed by a number of partners working in collaboration to ensure that we are able to provide the best care possible for the most vulnerable segment of our population.
AdvantAge Ontario is the trusted voice for senior care. We are community-based, not-for-profit organizations dedicated to supporting the best possible aging experience.
For more information, contact
Senior Director, Corporate and Public Affairs