Ontario nursing homes that fail to care for residents properly will face fines: health minister

Posted on January 12, 2017 in Health Delivery System

TheStar.com – News/Queen’s Park – Nursing homes repeatedly violating care standards would face fines under reforms coming this year, said Health Minister Eric Hoskins.
Jan. 11, 2017.   By ROB FERGUSON, Queen’s Park Bureau

Nursing homes repeatedly refusing to comply with the rules for taking care of the elderly and frail in Ontario will soon face fines, Health Minister Eric Hoskins said Wednesday.

The measure, recommended by auditor general Bonnie Lysyk in her 2015 annual report, is part of a package of legislative and regulatory reforms expected by summer.

They include more powers for the Health Ministry to order nursing homes to improve care, such as adopting new “best practices” for treating skin and wound problems, and the power to suspend a nursing home’s licence and put interim management in place.

As well, directives issued to nursing homes as a result of concerns discovered during inspections would be made public and new offences could be created under the act, such as “failing to protect residents.”

“The safety and security of Ontario’s long-term-care residents remains our government’s priority,” Hoskins said in a statement announcing the pending changes.

Although officials would not discuss how big the fines might be, they would provide a “stick” for the health minister to use in getting a small percentage of repeat violators to comply with the Long-Term Care Homes Act, which sets standards for care.

In her 2015 report, Lysyk slammed the government for failing to crack down on nursing homes that flout the rules of care and not knowing why the homes failed to fix problems.

“The ministry’s actions are not sufficient to address the repeated non-compliance in certain long-term-care homes,” the auditor general wrote.

She noted that 78 homes failed to comply with at least one order.

“We noted that homes in one region did not comply with almost 40 per cent of the compliance orders issued by the ministry in 2014, while homes in another region did not comply with about 17 per cent of orders.”

The NDP support the fines and new offences to force improvements in the nursing home sector, but said much more needs to be done to protect the almost 78,000 residents, most of them over the age of 65, in long-term care, which costs taxpayers $3.6 billion a year.

More than 20,000 Ontarians are waiting for nursing home beds and wait times have grown dramatically in the last decade, said New Democrat MPP Theresa Armstrong (London-Fanshawe).

“The Wynne Liberals have failed to adequately inspect long-term-care homes, and to respond to serious complaints and concerns, for years,” Armstrong said in a statement.

NDP health critic France Gélinas (Nickel Belt) has proposed a private member’s bill to require a minimum of four hours of care per day for every nursing home resident.

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