Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ontario is to enact retirement home legislation

The difference between a retirement home and a Long-Term Care facility is one of needs and abilities. Here is my dad in his retirement home. He needed a walker at the time, and help taking his medications, as well as supervision for showers.

In a retirement home you are a tenant. In LTC, formerly called 'nursing homes', you are a resident and protected by the LTC Resident's Act in Canada. The difference between a long-term care (LTC) home and a retirement home is the levels of care, and the Government Acts which apply.
In LTC, you gain the benefit of the Ministry of Health and LTC strict regulations.
In a retirement home you are simply a tenant, and are governed by the Landlord-Tenant Act.
In LTC you have nurses, with PSWs to do the work, in a retirement home, you are susceptible to the whims of the for-profit owners.

In LTC you have a Bill of Rights: LTC Standards

In Ontario, 500 or so of our 600 plus LTC homes are for-profit, and look at the troubles they face.

This is a frightening proposition to me, since LTC is staffed according to a specific resident/staff ratio. In a retirement home there are fewer staff, residents are required to be independent, to a certain extent, and many in LTC would not manage in a retirement home. They can get away with much if they are NOT regulated, but I fear that they will not improve the delivery of services to individuals.

You can see from my photos of my father the difference between his living in LTC (right) and in the retirement home (above). In the LTC facility he was no longer mobile.

In public and privately run retirement homes the media regularly report horror stories of resident neglect, abuse and poor standards of care on this continent.

The new act states:

Restraints prohibited
"(1) No licensee of a retirement home and no external care providers who provide care services in the home shall restrain a resident of the home in any way, including by the use of a physical device or by the administration of a drug except as permitted by section 71."
This means that government inspectors will be out and about. This is not a bad idea at all. But with something like 628 retirement homes across Ontario housing 43,000 residents (Tor. Star), they better be on their toes!

Some say, "“When there are no rules, there are no rules,” he said. “This will bring consistency. It will ensure those operating retirement homes have a level of competency to do so.”"
I hope so.

If a family member complains, and some are reluctant, there is a fear that nothing will be done, or that their family member will suffer the repercussions. Similarly, if a family member complains about a retirement home they can simply kick the resident out.

I hope this does not increase family expectations for retirement home vs. LTC.

The Star has a big article on this:

Big holes in Ontario retirement homes bill, advocates say‎ -Toronto Star

Critics charge that retirement homes will be able to self-regulate, medicate residents, and become "de facto" long-term care facilities if Bill 21 passes, according to a Toronto Star article.

However, the bill allows for the industry to be virtually self-regulating — missing public oversight, critics say. The legislation creates a private oversight model called the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority but it has limited public controls, according to Sack Goldblatt Mitchell.

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