Saturday, November 16, 2013

Reporting Abuse in long-term care homes and retirement homes

What is the most important things a Personal Support Worker (PSW) does?
The most important thing a PSW does is to maintain dignity.
These are wise words from OPSWA President Miranda Ferrier. She has been interviewed by CTV:
 CTV News Channel: Residents attacking each other
They must work with the door closed, and this invites privacy, but invites abuse by those without morals or values.
There is a shortage of registered staff, including PSWs. Many complain about being short-staffed, and running from resident-to-resident on the fly.

Nursing home neglect

A private nursing home chain enforced such strict rations on diapers that staff wrapped residents in towels and plastic garbage bags to keep their beds dry.

Reporting Abuse in long-term care homes and retirement homes

Reporting abuse is mandatory when the victim lives in a long-term care home or a retirement home. (For an explanation of these terms, see CLEO's On the Radar bulletin from June 2012.)

The law requires reporting by anyone who knows or has reasonable grounds to suspect that a resident has been, or might be, harmed by any of the following:
  • improper or incompetent treatment or care,
  • abuse of a resident by anyone,
  • neglect of a resident by a staff member or the owner of the home,
  • illegal conduct,
  • misuse or fraud involving a resident's money, or
  • misuse or fraud involving funding provided by the government to the home (long-term care homes only).
This obligation to report applies to everyone except other residents of the home. Members of regulated health care professions, social workers, and naturopaths must report even if the information is otherwise confidential.

Staff Ratios

There are no standards for these ratios, although funding to profits and non-profits is based on resident numbers. PSWs to residents; says Miranda that 1:12 is the normal ratio, with an array of biopsychosocial issues in residents. Unlike educational staffing, where funding is based on needs of students, all residents of long-term are get the same allotment.
 And there are many issues, aside from dementia, various mental health issues, nutritional or allergy complications and for-profits must step up.

These long-term care (LTC) homes continue to demonstrate that staff must be better trained. Continually, we see stories of abuse and neglect in the news. This is not the norm, but the incidents are adding up. Poorly paid, badly trained PSWs, who have made bad decisions, or those who deliberately prey on seniors in LTC. Some demand better pay, but with a grade 12 education, and a few College courses leading to a certificate, how can we depend upon them to care for loved ones? They complain of wages, which range from $15 per hour as home care workers, to $20+ in institutions (e.g., hospitals, LTC), yet they make bad decisions, which they blame on low-staffing.

Ontario’s nursing home problems mostly mundane: Walkom

Nursing home murders makes for splashy headlines. But the real dangers elderly residents face are incompetence, penny-pinching and casual neglect.

  • A resident died after the personal service worker assigned to cut up his food left to do something else. The resident then ingested half a sandwich and choked to death.
  • A resident broke his hip after falling in the bathroom. Yet no one noticed the injury for six days. Only when a family member took him to hospital was the break diagnosed. In that incident, the resident had fallen because only one personal service worker, rather than the two required, had escorted him to the toilet.
  • A PSW left my husband alone with my father, while sitting on the toilet. Hubby didn't know how to lift him, but he did. Hubby's got two discs that give him trouble years later, after helping dad from toilet to wheelchair. Dad begged him. What could he do? 
  • Read about this home
  • Inspectors found that a caregiver had taken money from a resident under the guise of a seeking a loan. Although other workers knew about the scam, none reported it. Only when the resident complained was any action taken.

A recent investigation by CTV’s W5, ‘Deadly Care,’ revealed that in the past 12 years, there have been at least 60 murders in Canadian nursing homes.

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