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Fixing long-term care with…

Zero tolerance for abuse

Government leaders suggest they are “fixing long-term care” to ensure Ontario’s seniors get the quality of care and quality of life they need and deserve after the horrific outcomes that occurred during the pandemic. The plan is said to be built on four pillars: staffing and care; quality and enforcement; building modern, safe and comfortable homes; and connecting seniors with faster, more convenient access to the services they need, according to a recent announcement.

Major transformation needed
Across the province  long-term care homes, providers of affordable housing and specialized care, “are seeking to replace older buildings and create new models of emotion-focused and person-centred care. We look forward to the province’s continued support in addressing long-standing systemic issues including a significant staffing shortage across the health care system and the need to rebuild Ontario’s older long-term care homes”, says Donna Duncan, CEO of the Ontario Long-Term Care Association.

New investigations unit
As part of the plan, government recently created a new 10-person Investigations Unit, an investment of $72.3 million. Suggesting that its presence will be an effective deterrent and accountability tool when escalated enforcement is needed to improve compliance and ensure resident safety the new unit is now active and looking into situations like:

• failing to protect a resident from abuse or neglect,
• a home’s repeated and ongoing non-compliance,
• failing to comply with ministry inspector’s orders,
• suppressing and/or falsifying mandatory reports
• negligence of corporate directors.

Qualified to act
“There is a commitment to high-quality care and zero tolerance for abuse”, claims Duncan. Under the Fixing Long-Term Care Act, the newly appointed investigators who are designated as Provincial Offences Officers completed comprehensive training over 4 months which included in-class training, self-study modules and field experience. The training covered all relevant legislation and regulation, investigative techniques such as interviewing, search warrant and report writing, as well as court procedures. Inspectors will identify and address non compliance under the Act and determine if there are grounds that an offence under the Act has been committed, which if prosecuted could result in fines and/or imprisonment as well as administrative monetary penalties and re-inspection fees.

“We are very pleased to see the launch of the brand-new long-term care investigations unit and the steps being taken to enhance inspections, enforcement, and accountability within long-term care homes across the province. With this unit and the specialized training of its investigators, we anticipate greater focus on sector-wide systemic issues, heightened inspection standards, and improved resident quality of life and safety,” says Sam Peck, from the Family Councils Ontario.

The Ontario government is also said to be providing up to $1.25 billion this year to long-term care homes to hire and retain thousands more long-term care staff, part of a four-year, $4.9 billion commitment to increase the average direct care time provided by registered nurses, registered practical nurses and personal support workers to four hours per resident, per day.

Kylie MacKenzie is an on-staff writer with Rehab & Community Care Medicine.

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