Local Long-Term Care Waiting Lists Growing(Queen's Park Report - Sept. 22, 2008) Looking for a nursing home bed? If you live in Collingwood, Clearview, Wasaga Beach, Essa or Springwater you should be prepared to wait since there are 1,468 people in your catchment area that are ahead of you in line. The situation is equally as bleak in New Tecumseth and Adjala-Tosorontio where the catchment area waiting list sits at 2,787. While there are a number of variables that can affect the time it takes you to get a nursing home bed, including the distance you are willing to travel from home or whether you are looking for a private or semi-private room, there is one unmistakable fact: the list is long and getting longer. In fact, according to the Ministry of Health, Ontario’s nursing homes are 99% full.
The waiting list in the North Simcoe Muskoka area grew by 247 people in six short months between February and August. In the Central Region, which includes New Tecumseth and Adjala-Tosorontio, the list grew by 93 people in just three months between February and May.
What makes this problem even worse is the fact that there are no new beds scheduled to be built in our riding. There are supposed to be 64 new beds ready to go in Midland in October and another 160 in Barrie in the fall of 2009, and while any new beds are always welcome news, that hardly keeps pace with demand, and, as I said earlier, none of those beds are not in our riding.
But waiting lists are just one piece of the long-term care puzzle that Premier McGuinty is fumbling. Another part of is personal care. Ontario’s long-term care residents receive only 2.6 worked hours of personal care per day, while those in Alberta, New Brunswick and Manitoba receive more than 3 hours per day while the gap in Ontario continues to grow because of a shortage of staff, funding and too much government regulation.
You know there is a problem when we force the hardworking staff in our long-term care homes to put more of an emphasis on labelling a residents toothbrush than helping a resident go to the bathroom; or, making them focus on measuring the amount of coffee a resident gets rather than worrying about whether they actually even like it. And that’s not their fault, it’s the governments.
So what is the solution? Well, the Progressive Conservative Caucus has developed a plan of action to begin to resolve these problems immediately. The plan calls for a the development of benchmarks to reduce waiting lists; addressing inflationary pressures by adequately funding the increased operating costs of our homes, so the homes can deliver the housekeeping, laundry, maintenance and other services that enhance resident care; a sector-wide staffing increase of 4,500 full-time positions rolled out this year; expediting the redevelopment of Ontario’s 35,000 oldest long-term care beds by providing adequate support and funding; achieving an average of 3 worked hours of personal care, per day within a year; and prioritizing the over 400 regulations which govern nursing homes.
We built 20,000 new nursing home beds during our 8 years in government and the Liberals have not built any additional beds, so I hope the Premier will accept these tangible solutions to address this growing problem.