CAW Expresses Disappointment with 'Action Plan' Aimed at Long-term Care Deregulation in Ontario

May 18, 2012, 10:40 AM EST


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CAW is expressing frustration and disappointment with the Ontario Long-Term Care Task Force on Resident Care and Safety Report released May 16, 2012.

The task force developed an inadequate plan consisting largely of voluntary industry initiatives to address recurring scandals of abuse and neglect in publicly funded and regulated long-term care facilities, the CAW said.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said "the report offers no real solutions, and, at best advocates for measures that should have been in place for decades." The CAW had previously advised the Task Force by submission (available at http://www.caw.ca/en/11037.htm) that staff reported woefully inadequate staffing and crushing workloads that are clearly counter-productive in creating a caring environment.

The Task Force itself does acknowledge that "the top factors leading to abuse and neglect as reported in surveys and submissions include staffing issues, such as high staff workload, and resident attributes, such as dementia or mental health and addiction problems, and clearly acknowledges that inadequate care staffing combined with residents needing more care can become a potent mixture. But the report also noted that only 32.5 per cent of critical incidents in the sector in 2011 were staff-on-resident; and only 4.5 per cent involved alleged abuse - the majority of incidents are clearly resident-on-resident interactions.

Inadequate staffing levels contribute to a systemic failure to protect residents from each other, Lewenza said. Lewenza stated, "While the CAW has consistently advocated for zero tolerance for abuse or neglect in these workplaces, we will never eliminate abuse if we only focus on vilifying workers as culprits and ignore the larger picture." Senior advocates and unions have repeatedly recommended a minimum care staffing standard, rather than more workplace committees to examine the issue. Yet the Task Force recommends two further workplace committees; a Quality Committee of senior managers and an Employee-Management Group committee to consider quality of work life issues in relation to preventing abuse and neglect.

"More discussion in the workplace will only consume more staff time away from resident care if the adequacy of existing staffing levels is not addressed." Lewenza continued, "Achieving a guaranteed minimum standard of care must remain the gold standard to ensure adequate care and safety for residents in long-term care homes." CAW also cautions the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to not concede her responsibility and accountability for public policy to the long-term care industry associations.

Deb Tveit, Assistant to the CAW President, said "the industry has been dominate in the composition and consultations with this Task Force and advocated for a model of industry self-regulation; or deregulation that would weaken legislative requirements only recently adopted in response to a strong public outcry. "Resident care and safety is far too critical to continue to leave in the hands of the same operators that have been running these facilities for decades," Tveit said.

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