Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

October 15, 2013 13:32 ET

Ontario must fund long-term care on par with other provinces

Double daily care for nursing home residents with just $32 a day

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 15, 2013) - Advocates representing the families of long-term care (LTC) residents and front line staff, said at a Queen's Park media conference today, that there is widespread agreement that care and staffing levels at Ontario nursing homes are too low, leaving residents with complex conditions, with unmet needs. Each day direct care staff race the clock as they struggle to bathe, feed, dress and toilet residents, while fulfilling the endless documentation required by the province in order to secure funding.

Since 1992 the care needs of Ontario nursing home residents, have grown. During the same period staffing levels remained stagnant.

"This must change," said Tom Carrothers with the Family Council Network, Kathy Pearsall with Concerned Friends of Ontario Citizens in Care Facilities and Candace Rennick secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario and a former LTC worker. They called on the health minister and the Premier to legislate an enforceable daily care standard of four hours for nursing home residents.

Between 2008 and 2012 the proportion of residents in nursing homes with disease diagnosis increased for every category of disease. Dementia is increasingly common. Over 75 per cent of residents have some level of cognitive impairment. More than one in four residents suffers from severe dementia.

Care that was previously provided in complex care hospital beds with higher staffing levels has been downloaded onto LTC facilities as over 18,000 hospital beds have been closed in less than two decades. Consequently, today over 80 per cent of new resident admissions to nursing homes have high clinical needs. Less than 1 per cent of residents were in the low and mild clinical needs category. Soon all residents admitted to nursing homes will be from the highest needs categories.

Currently, staffing and care levels in Ontario's nursing homes are below the national average. Only BC has lower care/staffing levels. Compared to other provinces, Ontario underfunds long-term care. Expenditures per resident per day for a range of LTC facilities is $28 per resident per day less in Ontario than in Canada as a whole. All other provinces, except for PEI and New Brunswick, spend more on LTC than Ontario.

By increasing daily funding by just $32 a day, per resident, Ontario funding levels for LTC would be on par with other provinces like Quebec, Saskatchewan and Alberta and daily hands-on care for residents could be doubled.

Dr. Pat Armstrong a York University sociology professor working on an international study re-envisioning long-term care, said that there is an abundance of research evidence linking higher staffing levels with better quality care.

A succession of Ontario Coroner's inquest juries into homicides and other tragic deaths at nursing homes have recommended increasing staffing levels to keep residents safer.

In addition to a four hour daily care standard the group called on the province to:

  • Increase funding for homes but tie funding to the provision of quality care and achieving a four hour mandated care standard;
  • ensure accountability by making homes publicly post staffing levels;
  • stop closing complex continuing care and alternative care beds in hospitals.

Contact Information

  • Stella Yeadon
    CUPE Communication
    (416) 559-9300