Long-term care advocate calls for immediate sector investments

TORONTO—More beds, modernized homes and more staff are needed if Ontario is going to keep up with the growing needs of seniors, says the Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLTCA). Unveiling its 2018 budget and pre-election report at a speech in Toronto, the association pointed to the growing needs of seniors living in long-term care and the increasing wait list to access these services, calling for government action.

“This year, more than 32,000 seniors remain on a waiting list to get access to long-term care services, a number that has grown substantially from last year’s 26,000 and could grow to 84,000 in the next 10 years if nothing is done,” said OLTCA CEO Candace Chartier. “On top of the growing demand for care, the needs of resident s continue to grow. Our plan addresses the complex care needs of Ontario’s seniors and the growing demand for care. The time for action is now.”

“We’re certainly advocating for funding for additional beds and additional front line staffing, with an aging population,” stated Susan Farren, administrator of the Manitoulin Lodge Nursing Home in Gore Bay. She pointed out, “this situation is not unique to just the Manitoulin Lodge; there is a need at nursing homes across the province.”

The OLTCA presented several key recommendations to ensure the province’s long-term care system is sustainable and set up for continued success. The 15-page plan entitled ‘More Care. Better Care’ helps prepare the province for the number of seniors that will need to access residential care and will improve the quality of the care provided to these seniors.

These recommendations include more care with more beds and building 10,000 new long-term care beds over the next five years; more care with more staff, with funding for additional registered nursing staff and personal support workers to provide more than 3.2 million extra care hours for seniors living in long-term care; better care, particularly more dementia care, expanding the in-home Behavioural Supports Ontario teams to every long-term care home in Ontario; better care with modernized homes-taking steps to modernize the 40 percent of long-term care homes that require renovations or to be rebuilt.

The OLTCA also highlighted the urgent need for more enhanced support for smaller long-term care homes throughout the province, who play a vital role in their communities but have increased challenges when it comes to maintain operations.

A recent Nanos survey conducted on behalf of the OLTCA found that more than half of Ontarians are not confident the province is investing what it should so that long-term care homes can continue to provide quality care, and the majority also said they felt it was  urgent that the long-term care needs of Ontario’s seniors be addressed in the next election.

“Today, nine out of 10 long-term care residents have some form of cognitive impairment and one in three are severely affected. The vast majority of residents also have multiple chronic conditions that have seriously compromised their health,” said Ms. Chartier. “It is crucial that we address the needs of the sector today so that we can provide better seniors care to these residents, as well as to sustain and improve for future generations.”