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Feeling the pinch, Maxville Manor gets proactive

Posted: January 22, 2021

(January 21, 2021)

By:  Todd Hambleton, Cornwall Standard-Freeholder (Print edition)

MAXVILLE Close to Highway 417 and just over a half hour from the Ottawa area, Maxville isn’t that far off the beaten path.

And when it comes to Ontario’s long-term care personal support worker shortage, Maxville Manor is feeling the crunch – but so are facilities in Hamilton and Windsor and many other urban areas.

“The shortage of PSWs across the LTC and home-care sector is significant across the province,” said Amy Porteous, the manor’s chief executive officer.

Porteous said the shortage is impacting many facilities in both urban and rural areas, and that’s why Maxville Manor, currently experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, has announced a very proactive approach to the PSW situation: it’s going on offence, offering new hires temporary paid accommodation, a $5,000 bonus to new graduates of a PSW program who work fulltime hours, paid by the Ministry of Long-Term Care, after two and six months, and, through Indeed, holding an online job fair Thursday – and hoping to hire on the spot.

Porteous on Wednesday confirmed the manor is short 11 PSWs, which is 15 per cent of support staff, and that recruitment efforts don’t end with the cash bonus, accommodations and job fair – it’ll also begin a partnership with St. Lawrence College, and be offering clinical placement opportunities to qualified students from current PSW programs that are running.

In the final report and recommendations for Caring in Crisis: Ontario’s Long-Term Care PSW Shortage – a study commissioned from the Ontario Health Coalition by Unifor – a comprehensive recap was provided regarding PSW crisis roundtable meetings that were held in larger urban areas including Kitchener-Waterloo, London and Sudbury, and one of the key issues was a PSW staffing shortage termed critical, participants often describing an aging workforce that’s not being replaced with new recruits.

“Shortages seem to breed more shortages… across Ontario the situation was described in similar terms,” reads a passage in the report.

The report said Ministry of Health data indicated a slight improvement from 2006-12, but that care levels have dropped to their lowest levels of the decade, despite the increases in levels of resident acuity. And, overall, the trend line tracks downward indicating that Ministry of Health funded staffing levels have actually declined since 2006.

Maxville Manor, a 122-bed nursing home which also has 20 independent living units, is currently in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak; since Dec. 29, one staff member, two family caregivers, and two residents have tested positive for the illness. Maxville Manor has also made news recently for its participation in a rapid COVID-19 testing pilot project.

And, in the early fall, as the manor received the green light for a massive redevelopment, with Infrastructure Ontario approving financing up to $20 million for what is a $24-million capital project over the next 25 years, CEO Bernard Bouchard announced his pending retirement.

In the early months of the outbreak, the facility was also home to some labour tension, as unionized staff members represented by the United Steel Workers opposed a staffing re-organization announced by the former CEO. The goal of the changes was to shift hours to more full-time positions, which the union said would ultimately lead to fewer staff members. It’s unclear whether the changes were ever implemented, as the intent was to make them after the pandemic had subsided.

Porteous became CEO in October after working as an executive at Ottawa’s Bruyère Hospital.

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