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Ontario Health Coalition and the Oxford Coalition for Social Justice are demanding increased staffing and access to care at long-term care facilities, as well as a reduction in wait times

Posted: June 21, 2016

(June 21, 2016)

By: Heather Rivers, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

WOODSTOCK — Rocking chairs are supposed to be considered a symbol of comfort and safety, as well as a reassurance that someone is taking care of us.

But on Tuesday afternoon, a giant rocking chair in Woodstock was used to symbolize what the Ontario Health Coalition considers a serious problem in Ontario’s long-term care homes.

“The rocking chair is a symbol of care — it’s a symbol of comfort in your golden years,” explained Peter Boyle, a volunteer with the Ontario Health Coalition. “That is something lacking in Ontario long-term care facilities.”

The oversized rocking chair, which has visited 19 communities so far this year and 59 over the last three years, is designed to bring attention to the need for improved access to care and improved levels of care in Ontario’s long-term care homes.

“We want to raise awareness about the plight of the elderly in long-term care homes,” Boyle said.

Boyle said the major issues are quality of care and the need to improve personal care for long-term care residents, as well as patient rights.

“Twenty years ago, the government of the day removed the regulations of 2.5 hours on average of patient care per day,” he said. “For the last 20 years there have been no regulations, whatsoever.”

While he said it’s a problem today, with the ever-increasing number of seniors there is an even bigger problem “looming.”

Boyle said while seniors are supposed to be able to choose a home of their choice, it often doesn’t happen.

“They are forced into the first home available and it is not in the area where their friends or family are,” he said.

And with a chronic waiting list for beds, combined with the closure of hospital beds and people staying in their homes longer, by the time many seniors get to long-term care facilities they have more problems than when they were first put on the list.

“The acuity of their illnesses is a lot higher than it used to be,” Boyle said. “Seventy per cent of long-term residents suffer some form of dementia or Alzheimer’s — so they need extreme levels of care.”

The Ontario Health Coalition is demanding that the Ontario government set a minimum care staffing standard of four hours of hands-on care per day, per resident.

They are asking for improved access to care and reduced waiting times.

Tim Carrothers is a volunteer with a Family Council Advocacy Committee, which is a group of family and friends that volunteer in long-term care facilities.

He supports the changes that the Ontario Health Coalition is asking for.

“We go into long-term care facilities every day,” he said. “The staff tell us they don’t have enough time to look after our loved ones.”

Boyle said local residents can add their voice to the campaign by emailing their MPP and Queen’s Park “to put pressure on the government to do something.”

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