Ontario nurses say Long Term Care Homes Act represents a first step
TORONTO, Oct. 3, 2006 – Ontario nurses commend the McGuinty government for a set of changes they say will help protect residents at long-term care homes across the province. However, the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) stopped short of giving the Long-Term Care Homes Act its full support over concerns the government’s commitment doesn’t go far enough.
“We welcome these developments because they will help our most vulnerable and treasured citizens,” says Mary Ferguson-Paré, president of the RNAO. “Without a clear commitment to appropriate levels of funding and assurances of adequate staffing, this plan leaves nursing home residents and caregivers in a vulnerable situation”, she adds.
Among the proposals RNAO is pleased about is the provision for whistle-blower protection. “This is something we have been requesting since 1998 to ensure that nurses and other health care workers can express their concerns without fear of reprisal from their employers. It’s a vital safety valve that has been added to the long-term sector. We now ask the minister to consider enshrining this important protection across all health-care sectors,” says Doris Grinspun, executive director of RNAO.
RNAO is pleased that requirements stipulating long-term facilities have at least one RN on duty and on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, will be written into law. However, without a minimum number of hours of care legislated for residents, RNAO believes care providers will be left in a compromised position. “We would prefer to see the government commit to a minimum level of 3.5 hours per resident. This would require commitment followed by funding,” says Ferguson-Paré.
RNAO is also pleased that the current practice of surprise inspections will continue. However, Grinspun says the ministry’s website should not be limited to highlighting facilities where deficiencies in care have occurred. “We would like to see this website expanded to include instances where facilities have corrected their actions and facilities where staff and residents are proud of the care,” she adds.
One area of the legislation RNAO is deeply concerned is the lukewarm commitment to not-for-profit providers. “We would like to see a much stronger commitment in the legislation to not-for-profit delivery for all new long-term care beds,” says Grinspun.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.