More help means fewer risks
By Shoynear Morrison
The Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors (OANHSS) is urging the government of Ontario to increase the staffing levels at resident homes across the province.
“If the staffing levels are inadequate, and they currently are, you just don’t have enough people to ensure appropriate care and safety,” said OANHSS CEO Donna Rubin.
Long-term care homes are composed of elderly, mentally and physically disabled patients. Some residents deal with aggressive behaviour.
A typical response for patients with severe Alzheimer’s and Dementia disease can be anger and violence, which can be targeted towards staff or other residents, explained Rubin.
“The more staff you have the more watchful eyes you have. You’re trying to keep any risks of these inappropriate behaviours under control,” she said.
The OANHSS are attempting to increase the current staffing levels from 3.4 hours per resident per day to four hours. To move the sector up in care it will cost the government approximately $385 million, according to OANHSS.
“Each long term care home must have a written staffing plan for nursing services and personal support services. This staffing plan must ensure a staffing mix that is consistent with residents’ assessed care and safety needs. Since 2008, we have funded the creation of 2,500 personal support workers and more than 900 nursing positions. We also support the training of long-term care home staff to improve resident safety, quality of care and abuse prevention,” said Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care spokesperson David Jenson in written response to OANHSS’s press release.
The Ontario section is composed of 78,000 residents and 630 homes. “There’s just not enough boots on the floor. The increase in staffing translates into better resident care,” Rubin said.
A personal support worker (PSW) is a health care aid that assists in the needs of others and helps with activities of daily living. Sixty-six per cent of resident care aids are PSW’s.
There can be many challenges that care aids face.Clients might lash out or even hit, said Humber’s Personal Support Worker program co-ordinator Donna Skells.
The increase in staffing would assist in the dangers that PSWs face and the quality of care that clients receive.
“The less client load would result in more one-on-one TLC (tender, love and care) type of care, which a lot of the elderly need,” Skells said.
“The acuity of the patient has changed greatly and not necessarily has the staffing increased,” said Skell. “If you’re running bare bones then that it makes it harder for the people who are giving the care.”
Ultimately, said Rubin, the goal from OANHSS’s is to ensure that people within resident homes are safe.