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Giant rocking chair arrives in Essex County as part of tour focusing on lack of care for seniors

Posted: June 21, 2016

(June 21, 2016)

By: Trevor Wilhelm, Windsor Star

Health care advocates pushing the government to improve access and standards at long-term care homes stopped in Essex County Monday, and they brought a giant rocking chair to drive home their point.

Volunteers criss-crossing Ontario with the 10-foot chair said it’s a symbol of the care that residents should be receiving.

“We want to reach into the community and actually start thinking about how we can improve standards of care and to start mobilizing a base that governments will listen to,” said Windsor-Essex Health Coalition chairman Ken Lewenza Jr., who joined volunteers on the local stops. “Whether you talk about it from a family’s perspective or a worker’s perspective, things are ready to burst. So we’re saying how do we start thinking about a longer term plan and the only way we can do that is mobilize peoples’ attention around this particular issue.”

The group made stops in Amherstburg and Essex with the chair Monday on a 19-city tour across Ontario, calling on the government to reduce wait times and set a minimum standard of care.

The coalition said it wants to collect 20,000 signatures to symbolize the 20,000 people in Ontario waiting to be placed in long-term homes.

Peter Boyle, a volunteer with the Ontario Health Coalition, said the minimum standard should include at least four hours of hands-on care in a 24-hour period. This is important, he said, because of the “extreme” illness many patients are dealing with in long-term care homes. He said 70 per cent of the patients have some form of dementia.

“The workers do everything that they can, they just don’t have the time when they’re serving 15, 18 patients,” said Boyle. “They’ve got 45 seconds here, 30 seconds there to get everyone going. They don’t have any social time with them. A lot of times they over-medicate them because they don’t have enough staff. They put people in diapers because they can’t get them to the bathroom on time. Really it’s shameful what’s happening.”

Boyle said the coalition is also fighting for people’s right of access to long-term care homes in an age of increasing wait times for a reduced number of beds.

“Currently there are 80,000 long-term care beds in Ontario,” said Boyle. “There is a chronic waiting list of 20,000 beds for the last 20 years. We’re talking about 100,000 families that are in or trying to get into long-term care homes. The average wait time is five months.”

Boyle said people have a right to go into any home. If you live in Amherstburg, you have the right to go into a home in that community, he said.

“What’s happening is the wait times are so long that when a bed is available, you’ve got to go to another community away from your family because the standard of care isn’t there,” said Boyle.

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