Fix for long-term care cri­sis won’t be easy

Ottawa Citizen - - Letters - Grace Welch, Chair, Ad­vo­cacy Com­mit­tee, Cham­plain Re­gion Fam­ily Coun­cil Net­work

Re: Doc­tors can help solve the cri­sis in long-term care, Feb. 3. While it makes sense to in­volve fam­ily doc­tors more in the planning of their pa­tients’ home care and pos­si­ble placement in long-term care, it isn’t go­ing to re­solve the cri­sis in long-term care in On­tario. Long-term care homes are un­able to re­tain and re­cruit per­sonal sup­port work­ers (PSW); the high res­i­dent-to-staff ra­tio means that the work­load is too heavy, the com­pen­sa­tion is too low and there is too much part-time work with­out ben­e­fits. Col­leges can’t fill spa­ces in their PSW pro­grams even when of­fer­ing free tu­ition. Most long-term care homes reg­u­larly work short­staffed, putting their res­i­dents and staff at risk of se­ri­ous in­jury.

The wait lists for long-term care beds across On­tario are grow­ing at alarm­ing rates, up 78 per cent be­tween 2011-2012 and 2018-2019. There are now more than 36,000 frail, sick se­niors wait­ing for a bed while their fam­i­lies and friends strug­gle to sup­ple­ment the lim­ited home care avail­able to their loved ones.

Many of those wait­ing for care are oc­cu­py­ing much-needed hospi­tal beds. Since 2013, only 84 new long-term care beds have been built in Ottawa de­spite the city’s ag­ing pop­u­la­tion.

Ad­dress­ing the long-term cri­sis in On­tario is go­ing to take gov­ern­ment in­vest­ment in hu­man and phys­i­cal re­sources, com­bined with in­no­va­tive ideas. It is not go­ing to be easy to fix longterm care but if they can build a hospi­tal in 10 days in China, can’t we find so­lu­tions?

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