In the Throne Speech one year ago Prime Minister Trudeau promised to work with the provinces and territories to set national standards for long-term care (LTC). When the 2021 budget was recently released there was no mention.
What he did say was that The Health Standards Organization and The Canadian Standards Association had joined together to launch updated standards for LTC. No mention of accountability for LTC.
What scares me is that close to 70% of all long-term care homes in Canada are accredited according to the existing standards! 83 % in Ontario and 100% in Quebec. So the existing ‘accreditation’ did not stop the horrors that continue to happen to our seniors who are in LTC. Those of us who have had seniors in such facilities are not surprised.
What surprises me yet again, is nothing is being done to change this travesty.
Right now here is the existing accreditation criteria:
- voluntary opt-in
- run by private bodies
- LTC homes pay for the assessment
- results of assessment are not made public
- achieved through buying products and services
- does not measure staffing hours
- does not measure quality of care
- no accountability processes
- no fines/punitive measures
- has not prevented COVID deaths
Isn’t it a sign of insanity to keep doing the same thing and expect better results? While our Federal Government is prioritizing funding for support of not-for-profit child care why have they forgotten our most vulnerable seniors? Once again it appears that no one cares.
In March of 2021 advocates representing more than a million Canadians came together to establish national standards for long-term care. (Source: Ontario Health Coalition)
They asked for the Federal Government to commit to ongoing funding for long-term care with clear criteria requiring provinces to improve quality, accountability and take profit out of senior’s care.
The systematic failures during the pandemic exposed deep long-standing issues. We should be ashamed of the unspeakable neglect and death that occurred. And will occur again, if nothing changes.
Because of the lack of funding for public care and the need to make a profit for private care many LTC workers are thrown into complex clinical solutions without adequate training. It is estimated that unregulated, nonprofessional workers provide 75-80% of direct care to nursing home residents in Canada.
Long-term care homes are not part of the Canada Health Act!!! If LTC was under the Canada Health Act, there would be an obligation for the Federal Government to fund and take some measure of ongoing responsibility and accountability for the sector. (Proposed National Standards for Long-Term Residential Care, Goldblatt Partners, Steven Shrybman)
Questions to ask your Federal Candidates could include:
- why isn’t LTC under the Canadian Health Act
- why aren’t there Federal standards for LTC when all research shows it is needed – if they are in agreement ask for timelines
From what I have read Premiers don’t want the Feds taking over LTC standards. It appears to me that Provincial Governments could have instituted regulations that ask for accountability, surprise inspections, measures of staffing levels or care hours and the ability to impose punitive measures or fines when criteria is not met, they have not.
The Feds need to step up and take responsibility, just as the many reports gathering dust have outlined. Justin Trudeau directed the Minister of Health in a letter dated January 2021 – “For the Minister of Seniors, to work with the provinces and territories to set new, national standards for long-term care so that seniors get the best support possible.”
Isn’t it obvious that until Federal Standards are imposed nothing will change.
Let your voice be heard! Ask all the candidates in your area what they are going to do about setting federal standards for LTC facilities as well as placing these facilities under the Canada Health Act.
Write letters to the editor of you newspaper, ask questions at forums or if a candidate comes to your door. You can make a difference. Don’t let this important topic be forgotten, yet again.