Ontario long term care association calls for government to make seniors care a priority

TORONTO—Representatives of the Manitoulin Lodge Nursing Home in Gore Bay support calls by the Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLCA) to make seniors care a priority.

“We support the (OLTCA) Better Seniors Care Campaign, specifically in-home behaviour support of Ontario (BSO),” said Lee Turley, administrator/staff educator No. 2 at the Manitoulin Lodge. “In the last two years, Manitoulin Lodge has ranked number one for gathering the most signatures within the small homes category to support the campaign. This year is no different, we will be seeking support from community partners, families, residents, friends, and other community members.”

Mr. Turley noted, “for those who have BSO, it works very well. For those who don’t have in-house BSO, it’s always a game of catch up. When there is BSO in the home, the focus of the home is up skilling existing staff and supporting efforts that are geared at improving the care for residents with dementia. Research shows that in-home teams are two to four times more likely to reduce or eliminate challenging behaviours.”

Last year, more than 100,000 Ontarians relied on services provided by long-term care homes, the majority requiring care for complex conditions such as dementia. The needs of seniors will continue to rise and it is imperative that the system is sustainable and set up for continued success.

“Over the next decade it is anticipated that there will be 50 percent more seniors over the age of 75 and, by extension, a growth in the number of people with complex needs who require long-term care,” said Candace Chartier, chief executive officer of the OLTCA. “While we recognize that there is a need to be fiscally prudent in times of economic uncertainty, we ask the federal government to reconsider its stance, make health a priority and support the province’s advocacy for an improved federal health transfer.”

“Last year, Ontario’s 78,000 long-term care beds supported more than 100,000 seniors and yet remarkably, over 20,000 remained on the wait list for care,” says the OLTCA. “Further, with the ongoing growth in commitments to keep seniors at home, the resulting impact on long-term care is an older, more medically complex resident to care for. In fact, this past year new statistics highlighted that approximately 90 percent of residents in long-term care have some form of dementia, a significant change from what was seen just two years ago. The need for specialized care for  people with dementia is growing, and so too should the investments that support their care.”

“Much like the broad challenges we face with aging infrastructure across Canada, Ontario’s long-term care sector is in need of increased investments to rebuild and renovate more than 30,000 long term care beds whose licenses expire in 2025,” the OLTCA release continues. “Without a growth in investments and support from Ottawa, Ontario’s Enhanced  Long-Term Care Home Renewal Strategy could be further  impacted, thus affecting the likelihood that these beds will be redeveloped. Should these beds go offline; the resulting impact could be catastrophic.”

“We need our elected officials to make providing better health care a priority for the long-term,” said Ms. Chartier. “We know that Ontarians share our concern about  our ability to care for their parents and grandparents. The time for action is now.”

The OLTCA has a plan called ‘Better Seniors Care’ which calls for immediate action to improve seniors care in Ontario. The plan calls for the province to modernize every long-term care home in Ontario classified as outdated, homes that house 35,000 residents, many in rooms with more than two people.

It wants the province to ensure seniors who live outside urban centres have sufficient access to long-term care close to home.

The association is also calling for multi-year funding so long-term care home administrators can better plan and ensure specialized resources are there to support residents with increasing needs.

“With the OLTCA, we believe in quality over quantity of care. In-home BSO is more effective than minimum staffing ratios,” said Mr. Turley. “Give seniors outside of urban centres equal access to services.”

“Last year our sector supported more than 100,000 seniors, yet over 20,000 remained on the wait list,” continued Mr. Turley. “In many communities, particularly those where there aren’t any other service options, there aren’t enough LTC beds to meet demand.”

“We definitely support Candace (Chartier) with her advocacy efforts and hope that we can carry the message to Queen’s Park,” said Mr. Turley. “This year, like others, we encourage everyone to visit BetterSeniorsCare.ca and sign a petition to make seniors care a priority in 20178 and for years to come.”

The Manitoulin Lodge will be hosting an open house and better seniors care campaign on February 24.

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