TORONTO, May 30, 2005 -- Some of the biggest problems with competitive bidding for home-care services in Ontario today - including high staff turnover, an unstable and unsupported nursing workforce, piece-work care, and an emphasis on low-cost rather than high-quality care -- would be mitigated if the Ontario government accepts recommendations from a report released today by former MPP and Minister of Health Elinor Caplan.
Joan Lesmond, president of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), said while the association continues to call for an end to competitive bidding, she is encouraged to see incentives for employers to improve work conditions, an emphasis on continuity of care and caregivers, and the potential for increased stability for home health nursing.
“While RNAO would like competitive bidding to end, these recommendations, if accepted and implemented properly, would lead to better working conditions and benefits for RNs and improved quality and continuity of care for the people they serve,” said Lesmond.
RNAO executive director Doris Grinspun said she was particularly pleased to see that Mrs. Caplan took the association’s advice and recommended elimination of the ‘elect-to-work’ model -- a practice that fragments the nursing workforce and the care people receive. Grinspun said RNAO will be monitoring employers to see if they will provide more clinical and educational support for home health nurses as well as more full-time jobs for home health nursing, which has traditionally had a greater concentration of RNs working part-time and casual.
“Many of the recommendations would strengthen the stability of home-care nursing and lead to greater continuity of care and caregiver for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities,” said Grinspun. “Home health nurses, and the people they serve, should not have to wait a moment longer for more stability and support; it’s essential that the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care ensures that changes to improve home health-care nursing happen immediately.”
Lesmond said RNAO will be urging the Minister to take a serious and sober second look at evidence showing the fundamental pitfalls of for-profit delivery of health-care services. Lesmond said the private sector’s imperative to build in profit affects training, orientation and quality of care and work life.
“The viability of health-care reform depends upon a stabilized and properly resourced community health-care sector. The evidence shows that for-profit delivery costs more, and delivers less. We ask the government to ensure that they spend taxpayers’ money wisely by funding the best quality services for the best price.”
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario 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.