Friday, August 22, 2008

Long-Term Care issues

With more in the news about Long-Term Care (LTC) issues, formerly called 'nursing homes', we are hard-pressed to feel an confidence that our twilight years will be star-filled. The bottom line governs so much of what we do in this world. Not much nursing is done these days as most of the physical care has been assigned to Personal Support Workers (PSW).

The Toronto Star cites may issues, on being the large number of violations on the Ministry website where the documentation of LTC standards is said to occur. Many violations, in my experience, are the result of a lack of personal with too much paperwork. Shirley Sharkies' report makes recommendations in this area.

Recently, a LTC home in east Toronto has found caregivers trying to protect the needs of their residents. In a headline, "Staff risk firing for 'hoarding' diapers", would appear that unwritten rules govern policies in these so-called 'nursing homes'. With nurses in such a shortage, we cimply canot call them ursing homes any more! Most of the day-to-day care is undertaken by Personal Support Workers (PSW). They are hard to find, as well! Staff remains a big issue in LTC.

In May, 2008, a woman left alone too long strangled herself on a wheelchair seat belt. This is preventable with more staff maintaining more vigilance. Each LTC home has its own culture and those part of a chain do not seem either better or worse than others. We know that those doing a great job empower others to perform in a similar fashion. In an industry with so much focus on the negatives, we must ensure that those doing a good job are not ignored and can be celebrated. In July, 2008, Ombudsman Andre Marin will figure out what he is going to investigate.

I can attest that each employee and each LTC home is different. Those in the news tend not to be ones in which residents are respected as individuals, in which staff go over and above their time, energy, education and training. There are pitfalls is painting all LTC homes with the same brush. I met many, many PSW ans nurses while my father and mother were in various levels of care. I found that most continue to treat residents as they would want to be treated.

It is unfortunate that the former health minister was replaced and the learning process had to begin again for the new health minister, rookie David Caplan. I anxiously await, not with baited breath, as opposition health critics have few answers and our big issue continues to be the lack of trained staff members in all areas of health care.

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