Daily care to increase in nursing homes

TheStar.com – Ontario Budget – Daily care to increase in nursing homes
March 27, 2008
Rob Ferguson, Queen’s Park Bureau

Nursing home residents in Ontario will get three hours of personal care daily when new funding kicks in from the new provincial budget, Health Minister George Smitherman insisted yesterday.

Smitherman made the pledge in the Legislature after being attacked by Progressive Conservative health critic Elizabeth Witmer, who accused the government of not doing enough to help nursing home residents who are left sitting in soiled diapers because of a lack of staff.

“With the investments in the budget (Tuesday), we’ll be bringing that standard to three hours per day of purchased care for our long-term-care residents, evidence of substantial enhancement,” Smitherman said.

The government has earmarked $107 million over three years to hire another 2,500 personal support workers for nursing homes and will add another 2,000 nurses over four years.

But at issue is the way Smitherman and the industry calculate hours of care.

While the industry has been pushing for three hours of daily care, Smitherman is calculating his pledge by including funding for staff such as social workers and employees on vacation who aren’t providing hands-on physical care, said Donna Rubin, chief executive of the Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors.

By Rubin’s calculations, current funding provides for 2.6 hours of care daily and the new funding will boost that to 2.67 hours.The government has said funding provides for over 2.8 hours.

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