Advertisement

LETTER: Long-term care problems extend into Riverview Gardens

This past Saturday, UNIFOR Local 127 and its retirees, along with the Chatham Kent Health Coalition, held a rally in support of local long-term care.

Article content

This past Saturday, Unifor Local 127 and its retirees, along with the Chatham Kent Health Coalition, held a rally in support of local long-term care. The Chatham Daily News covered the event and wrote an article. It included comments from Chatham-Kent’s general manager of community human services, who said, “As a municipality, we welcome the spotlight on long-term care.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

While we agree on one fact – that there is a severe staffing crisis across Ontario in long-term care – we have specific local concerns that require transparency and best efforts by our regional health leadership.

Publicly owned (municipal) long-term care homes usually do better than others. But here, April Rietdyk stated that Riverview Gardens, our local municipally owned and operated long-term care home, is providing 2.75 hours of care per day, which is the provincial average.

We have two issues with this. One, according to our confidential investigation of serious complaints from Riverview, while the staffing plan may in theory be 2.75 hours of care per day, multiple shifts are not filled and the actual levels of care reported to us are significantly less and nowhere near enough to provide even the basics. Workloads are impossible and important care cannot be done.

Secondly, 2.75 hours of care is nowhere near a safe level of care (for which the best evidence is four hours per resident per day). Other municipal homes do much better. We should also.

In reality, you only have to look at the number of resignations. Three weeks ago, there were four personal support worker resignations, and I have been told more are expected.

By using government programs, Riverview has been able to hire 24 new PSWs. They will join the PSW staff at Riverview who are often part time. They have brought on a scheduling expert to fix the staffing problems.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Scheduling may be a challenge for administration, but permanent part-time status does not help. Nor does denial of vacation, refusal to give staff time to take care of sick children, and ignoring depression, burnout and resignations.

A final note: April Rietdyk reported the provincial government’s announcement of four hours of nursing care per resident by 2024-25, which she said shows the provincial government is committed to further increasing the level of staffing to support residents.

I disagree with her. Every expert advocate interpretation, including the COVID-19 Long-Term Care Commission, has said that is too slow and has pushed as a priority that the staffing (and thus care) levels be fast-tracked. The Ontario government has refused.

Further, in the new LTC Act, Bill 37, the four hours of direct care per day is a “target” not a requirement of government. That makes it unenforceable.

Please go to letstalkchatham-kent.ca and give your opinion about what kind of community we want Chatham-Kent to be. Please call the mayor and your municipal councillors (your elected officials) to demand action to improve long-term care.

Shirley Roebuck

Chatham Kent Health Coalition

Latest National Stories

Advertisement

Story continues below

News Near Tillsonburg

This Week in Flyers