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Ford government promises more hands-on care in nursing homes

Posted: November 3, 2020

(November 2, 2020)

By: Staff

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — The Ontario government has announced a plan to increase the amount of direct care that nursing home residents receive daily.

The current average is 2.75 hours per day.

At a news conference at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga on Monday, Premier Ford and two cabinet ministers said they are setting a target of four hours per day per resident, to be reached within five years.

Ford said the government is acting on recommendations of Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission.

Direct hands-on care is provided by nurses or personal support workers to meet the individual clinical and personal care needs of residents.

The government proposes to establish hard targets over the next four years to achieve the ultimate goal of four hours per day by 2024-25.

“Progress will be measured and reported regularly,” a government press release stated.

More than 2,000 nursing home residents have died since the start of the pandemic.

The COVID-19 Commission has said the province must spend more, on a permanent basis, so homes can hire more staff.

According to Monday’s announcement, the province is taking the first step by recruiting an additional 3,700 frontline workers for the health workforce.

It said it plans “unprecedented changes to educate and recruit the tens of thousands of new PSWs, registered practical nurses and registered nurses who will be required” over the longer term.

The Ontario Health Coalition – a frequent critic of government health care policy – welcomed the adoption of a four-hour minimum care standard, but said it will take too long to implement.

“There is much more that the Ford government could do right now to save lives and get care levels up… announcing a care standard four years from now is just not good enough,” said OHC Executive Director Natalie Mehra.

She said provinces such as Quebec and B.C. took action earlier this year to stabilize their PSW workforces by increasing wages and recruitment.

“In contrast, Ontario’s government did nothing substantial in the summer months when there was a lull in COVID-19 cases and should have been planning for the fall,” Mehra said.

She added that additional staff are desperately needed in the province’s nursing homes immediately.

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