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