Hot! Ontario must step up inspection of nursing homes

TheStar.com – opinion/editorial – Long-term care
November 22, 2012

For the increasingly fragile and vulnerable residents of Ontario nursing homes, life was supposed to get better.

After years of Star investigations into abuse and neglect in Ontario’s 630 long-term care homes, the Liberal government promised a new inspection system so rigorous it would end the trauma that destroys some residents’ final years.

As it turns out, those were little more than promising words. Only a fraction of nursing homes have actually faced that in-depth inspection since the ministry’s new rules began in July 2010. In fact, advocates say, most homes will face the tough scrutiny only once every five years, instead of the government’s original promise for annual investigations.

It’s sad to say, but under the old maligned system at least every home got a yearly inspection. It wasn’t perfect, but it uncovered problems like pressure ulcers, dirty diapers or residents who went hungry from bad food.

Now, any visit by an inspector is considered an “annual” inspection, even if it’s related to a complaint about burned toast.

What a shame for the government that promised a “revolution” in long-term care. Ontario needs to fix this problem immediately and for once, the solution is simple: Hire more inspectors to do the hard-core — annual — inspections.

The union that represents the existing 81 inspectors says 50 new hires will cost roughly $5 million more a year, not a lot in a health budget of $46 billion. In a field of competing demands for money, it’s not an extravagant request, especially when additional inspectors could prevent abuse from happening long before serious harm is done.

Ontario’s inspectors now race from one home to the next, checking out individual complaints. Between July 2010 and Nov. 10, they did 5,500 inspections but only 95 of those were the in-depth kind.

To be fair, some were related to abuse but many others were more trivial concerns. And while it is good that more people are speaking out, the backlog of individual complaints has stopped inspectors from making proactive change.

The Star has investigated nursing homes abuse for a decade. If one axiom proves true it is this: Homes like secrecy. In fact, some thrive on it. If staff can cover up allegations of abuse or neglect, many will do just that. It is the residents who suffer, and based on the aging of our society, it won’t be long before many of us endure the same fate.

If Ontario must hire more inspectors to stop nursing home abuses, then it will be worth every penny.

< http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/1291730–ontario-must-step-up-inspection-of-nursing-homes >

1 Comment

  1. I was completely shocked and disgusted after I had read this article. Disgusted by the statistics, and shocked because of the amount of secrecy and issues that were, and still are, over-looked while caring for our elderly population. But I also completely agreed with the author’s opinion on the long-term care of individuals who are in old age and nursing homes. The author stated that The Star had investigated into the environment and treatment surrounding the elderly in homes, and the conditions they discovered lead them to demanding a change from the Liberal government- which they had promised to enforce a new inspection system in place to prevent neglect or abuse while in care at a home. This just confirms my thought about the liberal regime, and how things need to change. Every day our society hears stories about how the population is neglected in some way, whether it is children, parents, the poor, elderly, or disabled individuals. We need a change, and we need it now. It is utterly unacceptable that Ontario inspectors only did 95 in-depth inspections out of the 5500 total inspections- this is how people can get away with “dirty diapers, residents going hungry, and other uncovered issues”.

    While I understand our government’s budget may not allow for the best care or services, it can still be changed. The liberalist ideals enforce a free market, and limited government intervention, and also push the idea that consumerism will free all, and so lowering taxes will be what is best for the general population. What people don’t generally understand is that with the increase of taxes, even if it is by the most minimal amount of 1-2% then we can make a huge change and increase total government allowance. This could lead to bettering our services and providing the care for the elderly like we need to see. The article said that 50 more hires would cost an extra 5 million a year out of the 46 billion health budget that we currently have- so I feel that if our health budget allows it we should invest more money and care in the elderly. Even if there are more individuals hired to do a more thorough job and they discover the smallest, most trivial concerns it will be beneficial in the long run because it will ensure the well-being of the current population in care, and sometime in the future our own selves.

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