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Personal support worker crisis impacting long-term care in Brampton

Posted: February 15, 2020

(February 14, 2020)

By: Lucy Mazzucco, inbrampton.com

Peel families, advocates and workers and representatives of long-term care recently came together to voice their concerns about the critical staffing shortages and long-term care crisis in the Region of Peel and beyond.

At a Brampton press conference on February 14, 2020, speakers came forward to discuss the severity of the situation.

Caring in Crisis: Ontario’s Long-Term Care PSW Shortage, a report written by the Ontario Health Coalition and commissioned by Unifor, takes a look at the Personal Support Worker (PSW) crisis in Ontario’s long-term care homes.

This report is based on the feedback from roundtable meetings held across the province, with attendees such as home-operators and administrators, PSWs, union representatives, family councils, seniors, college staff, local health coalitions and other long-term care advocates.

PSW’s are responsible for providing hands-on care for approximately 80,000 long-term care residents in the province.

Long-term care homes reported that they are experiencing shortages every day on almost all shifts, indicative that there are not enough PSWs to staff existing beds.

Along with this, there are also planned new beds that are urgently required to address the long waitlists.

The report also included first-hand accounts of how the crisis is directly impacting local communities and their long- term care homes.

It also contains recommendations that could help to restore stability to the vital long-term care workforce.

“The situation in Brampton and Peel is critical. Staffing shortages are threatening the safety and care of residents and harming staff. The crisis cannot be solved locally alone. Action needs to be taken by our provincial government to solve this problem,” said Richard Antonio, Chair of the Peel Health Coalition.

“We are calling for increased funding directed to improve PSW staffing levels, wages and working conditions. We’re calling for a minimum care standard, and for support for violent and aggressive residents’ care.”

Antonio goes on to say that free tuition grants and other measures are needed to “attract people to this work,” and explains that these are practical solutions that can be implemented immediately by the Ford government.

“Long-term care homes in the Region of Peel are consistently working short-staffed. PSWs are passionate about their jobs and want to do everything they can to help our seniors in long-term care but they are forced out of the sector because wages have remained too low for too long and working conditions are becoming increasingly difficult,” asserted Ava Hinds, a local PSW in the community. “Workers are getting injured on the job because they don’t have the support they need, and so they are often left without any other choice but to find a different job.”

“PSWs in Peel and the surrounding regions often go above and beyond for residents. But still, residents often do not get the care they need. Why? Because there are not enough PSWs. This means that the levels of care are insufficient,” said Tom Carrothers, chair of the Advocacy Committee of Family Councils.

As a result, Carrothers explains that residents sometimes don’t receive the efficient care they need such as receiving their baths on time, rushed mealtimes and spending hours alone with very little socialization, that could lead to developing bedsores without repositioning.

“When care is rushed, the risk for errors and injuries increases significantly for both the residents and staff,” he concluded.

Have you been affected by the long-term care crisis in Brampton?

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