TORONTO, Oct. 3, 2006
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.