Long-term care: Thousands sign RNAO’s action alert

‘On July 31, Premier Ford has an opportunity to make good on his promise to fix long-term care for residents’

Long-term care: Thousands sign RNAO’s action alert

Nearly 6,000 nurses, nursing students, other healthcare professionals and members of the general public have signed the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario’s (RNAO) action alert to protect long-term care (LTC) residents in the province, according to the union.

By signing the alert, they support the call for immediate implementation of the Nursing Home Basic Care Guarantee – submitted by RNAO to the government – to protect Ontario's seniors who make their home in an LTC facility.

“Nursing home residents deserve this basic care guarantee, enabled by the required minimum staffing hours and the knowledge, competencies and skills demanded by the complexity and acuity of their care needs,” said Dr. Doris Grinspun, RNAO CEO. “Seniors need this basic care guarantee starting July 31, 2020.”

RNAO submitted the document to the government's Long-Term Care Staffing Study Advisory Group, and Justice Eileen Gillese gave the government a deadline of July 31, 2020 to table in the legislature a staffing plan for regulated staffing in LTC. The union has also previously discussed it with Ontario Premier Doug Ford and LTC Minister Merrilee Fullerton.

RNAO recommendations

Through the document, RNAO made the following recommendations:

1. Fund each long‐term care home and require the provision of a minimum of four worked hours of nursing and personal care to each resident per day, according to the following staff mix formula:  

  1. Registered Nurse (RN) staff in all homes at 20 per cent of the total nursing and personal care staff hours b.
  2. Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) staff in all homes at 25 per cent of the total nursing and personal care staff hours c.
  3. Personal Support Worker staff in all homes at 55 per cent of the total nursing and personal care staff hours This equates to the following number of resident care hours:
  • a minimum of 0.8 worked hours of RN care per resident per day 
  • a minimum of 1 worked hour of RPN care per resident per day 
  • a minimum of 2.2 worked hours of PSW care per resident per day

2. Fund each LTC Home for one NP per every 120 residents, in the role of Attending NP or Director of Clinical Care.

3. Fund each LTC Home with one additional nursing FTE staff (preferably a RN) to support the functions of infection prevention and control, quality improvement, staff education, on‐boarding and orientation.

4. Mandate with attached funding the following standards that address long‐standing human resource issues:

(a) Disallow LTC staff (RN, RPN, PSW) from working in other LTC homes;

(b) Ensure that nursing and personal care salaries in LTC are commensurate with those paid to the same health workers in other sectors, such as hospitals; and

(c) Ensure that full‐time employment with benefits is offered to all staff who want it

“The 79,000 older adults living in Ontario's long-term care homes, along with their families and the staff who care for them, can't wait any longer for change,” said Morgan Hoffarth, RNAO's president.

“The government has a deadline of July 31 – as set by Justice Gillese, who led the inquiry into the safety of residents in LTC homes. On July 31, Premier Ford has an opportunity to make good on his promise to fix long-term care for residents to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for the contributions they have made during their lives.”

Previously, RNAO released a report that compiled 35 reports about the troubles in the province’s long-term care system, and the recommendations that different groups have made since 1999.

Data Public Health Ontario show that among all Ontario workers who have acquired the COVID-19 coronavirus from January 15 to June 22, 2020, 17 per cent were healthcare workers.

Previously, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) recommended the provincial government to return long-term and home care to the public sector as a publicly funded and integrated system.

Recently, Ontario announced $1.75 billion in funding over five years to add new beds in long-term care homes while also updating design standards for all existing facilities and the ones that will be built in the future to include air conditioning.