Monday, June 29, 2009

Nursing shortages

A recent E. Ontario headline:

Crisis on the doorstep
"With more people needing in-home medical and physical help and not enough workers willing to make house calls, the region's $120-million home-care program is being stretched to the limit"

This is an issue that is having a profound effect on all Ontario Seniors. It is difficult finding enough health care workers at all levels of service. Hospitals are closing beds, in an attempt to cut back dollars, yet their are many who require support at home.

The government's big idea, begun in 2007 when I sat on the Aging at Home Strategy for our local LHIN 12 (North Simcoe Muskoka), was to enable seniors to find ways of staying in their homes. As the above articles says:
"The staffing crunch casts doubt on a three-year, $700-million provincial plan to clear hospital backlogs by having the home-care system provide more services."
We cannot find enough trained staff. In north and central parts of our province this issue is exacerbated by the distances staff must travel to provide home care. As with Children's Aid Society services, staff must travel a half hour between towns and clients, for example. Any time a nurse or PSW must visit a client they must drive a half hour, and PSWs are not paid enough to compensate for their time and their mileage.

The big agencies take staff from the smaller ones. Working in a hospital is far preferable to working in someone's home. Alternate Levels of Care placements must be carefully chosen. Staying in your home might make everyone's health worse.

PSWs must be better trained, regulated and paid well for the work they do. This is a key message. After several groups have been formed, some are lobbying for this.
But we still do not have enough staff in enough towns and cities. Seniors need help with ADLs, as well as home maintenance, lawns, snow, transportation. It is a complex issue.

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