Friday, September 30, 2011

Ontario's Retirement Homes - a profitable mess

The newest Retirement Homes Act, July 2010, was designed by the provincial government. A response to complaints about retirement homes, it has been a PR move in my humble opinion. For those who read my blog posts, you know that I know that the system isn't 'broken', but it does require must work and vigilance.

Established in 1977, the Ontario Retirement Communities Association (ORCA) is a non-profit, voluntary professional association that represents more than 350 retirement residences province-wide. ORCA represents approximately 75% of Ontario’s 43,380 retirement residence units (CMHC - 2010).

If this group only represents some of the homes, we cannot depend that the others are up to snuff. In fact, many are not. The theory is that accreditation assures potential residents and family that they are safe, will be well-fed and their activities of daily living (ADL) will be met. Meals, laundry, assistance with bathing, and other self-care activities some seniors have trouble doing on their own. Seniors' Bill of Rights sets out some determinants of these homes. Surely this violates Residents’ Bill of Rights
51.  (1)   section 8. The right to live in a safe and clean environment where he or she is treated with courtesy and respect and in a way that fully recognizes the resident’s individuality and respects the resident’s dignity.

This isn't the case. Many must liquidate all assets in order to fund their stay in a retirement home. Many retirement homes take residents that are subsidised by the government. That said, the for-profit homes can write their own rules, which are based on the bottom line. Retirement homes have their own policies. For one person, unable to face eating in a dining room, is being denied food. Her family has complained, but this remains policy. Retirement homes can assure family members that loved ones can be cared for, despite their social, emotional, or physical (palliative) status. Often, in my experience, this is not the case.

For the private senior, suddenly being forced into a congregated dining room, it may be more than they can face. Yet, retirement home 'policy' states that s/he cannot be brought meals in his/her room. I fought this battle with a paraplegic friend who was being denied hot food in her room. 'Policy', that staff misinterpreted by the Ministry of Health & LTC, after much advocacy and complaining, now assured that her meals were being delivered to her room.

People facing many changes, moving to a new home, dealing with grief and bereavement issues (loss of home, spouse, life as they knew it), are in shock. I've seen the angst that senior's face. My late father was in total meltdown when we transferred him to a delightful retirement home. One with the word 'Manor' in it. The care was exemplary. A small place it was hands-on, once his dementia hit him hard, he refused to bathe. I recall PSW Penny spending an hour trying to convince him to take a shower.

Complaints about retirement homes

Reporting requirements under the Retirement Homes Act, 2010 (the “Act”) came into force on May 17, 2011. Under the Act, there is an obligation to make a report to the Registrar of the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (the “RHRA”) if you suspect any harm or risk of harm to a resident resulting from improper care, abuse or neglect, or unlawful conduct. There is also an obligation to report suspicions of misuse or misappropriation of a resident’s money. Residents may make a report, but the Act does not require them to.
To make a report, call the CRIS line at 1-800-361-7254.

See also:

Food safety in retirement homes 2

Ottawa Retirement Homes and LTC are inspected regularly, not all pass. 

Vacancy Rate in Seniors’ Housing Residences at 10.7 per cent
July 5, 2011 
OTTAWA, June 23, 2010 — The vacancy rate in seniors’ residences surveyed in Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC’s) National Seniors’ Housing Survey increased from 9.2 per cent in 2009 to 10.8 per cent in 2010, according to CMHC’s Seniors’ Housing Report, Canada Highlights edition.

The survey collected information in the months of February and March to show:
• Vacancy rates ranged from as high as 18.9 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador to the national low of 3.4 per cent in the province of Saskatchewan.
• The highest average rent was found in the province of Ontario, at $2,519 per month, while Quebec had the lowest average at $1,271 per month.
• Nationally, approximately 43 per cent of standard spaces in the seniors’ residences were priced at less than $1,500. 22 per cent of spaces rented were priced at $2,500 per month or higher.

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