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Money not the only solution to fixing long-term care

Posted: February 18, 2021

(February 12, 2021)

By: Catherine Whitnall, MyKawartha

Fixing long-term care

Competition can be healthy, but not when it comes to long-term care.

The pandemic has contributed to countless long-term-care home deaths across Ontario and shone a light on a system that some say was broken long before the virus’ first case — a catalyst for a recent virtual town hall event hosted by the Haliburton-City of Kawartha Lakes Long-Term Coalition.

“For decades, the premise of long-term care has been rooted in the ability to pay,” said participant and Kawartha Lakes Health Coalition co-chair Zac Miller. “We really need to look at the generational impact. We need to look at a long-term fix and that should have started long before now.”

A 2019 report by the Ontario Health Coalition (“Situation Critical: Planning, Access, Levels of Care and Violence in Ontario’s Long-Term Care”) examined the provincial state of long-term care. Key findings included extremely inadequate care levels that have decreased over the last 10 years, steadily increasing acuity of residents, escalating violence in long-term care homes — both resident-on-resident and resident-on-staff — and the highest accident and injury rate for workers in the sector.

Provincially, close to 60 per cent of long-term-care facilities are privately owned. Roughly 12 per cent, like Victoria Manor in Lindsay, are operated by municipalities.

“But even if we make all long-term care public, there’s still so many other factors that need to be addressed,” said Miller, specifically speaking of staffing and minimum care standards for residents.

“It’s been devastating to hear people say their loved ones are starving or severely dehydrated because they just need a drink of water and there isn’t time to look after something as simple as that.”

Funding is only one solution, he says.

“It’s going to take money and it’s going to take time. And it’s going to take people to come together as a collective force,” said Miller.

The meeting had participants confirming their unanimous support for a list of measures needed to fix the crisis. These include putting long-term care under the Canada Health Act to ensure public funding and apply national standards, increasing staffing to ensure at least four hours per day of direct care per resident immediately, reinstating thorough annual Resident Quality Inspections of all long-term-care homes, changing the culture of long-term care to being more attentive to the value of our elders and exploring new models of care.

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