Seniors waiting in hospital beds for nursing home spots target of new law
Posted: September 1, 2022
(August 31, 2022)
By: Antonella Artuso, Toronto Sun
The Doug Ford government passed legislation Wednesday that will bring more pressure on seniors to vacate acute care beds if hospitals decide their needs can be better met in a nursing home.
Under Bill 7, if a doctor determines a patient doesn’t require the “intensity of resources or services” provided in a hospital setting, a placement coordinator will search for the nearest available long-term care (LTC) bed deemed appropriate.
“It’s about giving proper health care to the people who should be in long-term-care homes,” Ford said Wednesday, prior to the bill passing and become law. “It’s differentiating between sticking your loved one in a hospital bed — imagine that, a hospital bed, one of your loved ones, when alarms are going off, bells are going off all night — compared (to) giving them a beautiful home to stay in, a long-term-care home which will have proper care.”
Seniors or people with disabilities waiting for an open bed in their preferred nursing home are called “alternative level of care” (ALC) patients.
In hopes up freeing up hospital beds for the anticipated fall increase in flu and COVID-19 cases, the government has empowered hospitals to become more vigorously involved in finding ALC patients a nursing home bed, even if it’s just a temporary spot until a preferred LTC home becomes available.
CUPE, the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) and advocates for the elderly called on the Ontario Human Rights Commission on Wednesday to use its public inquiry powers to investigate Bill 7 as systemic age discrimination.
OHC Executive Director Natalie Mehra said the bill allows hospitals placement coordinators to assess patients, share their personal health information broadly, prepare an LTC application and then have them admitted — all without their consent.
“It is a terribly egregious piece of legislation,” Mehra said. “It targets one class of patients, the frail elderly mostly and people with disabilities, who are waiting for access to long-term care beds. We feel that it is discriminatory and that the Human Rights Commissioner should weigh in.”
LTC Minister Paul Calandra has said the legislation permits a conversation with patients.
“We have been saying right from the beginning that the goal of this is to ensure that those who are waiting to go into a long-term care home, who have been discharged, about to be discharged from hospital, have a better opportunity, better outcomes,” Calanda said. “That is what this legislation is about.”