TORONTO, March 3, 2014 – Seniors living in long-term care will benefit from a government decision to add nurse practitioners (NP) to the staffing mix of nursing homes around the province.
Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews announced the initiative while she was addressing members of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) last Thursday, Feb. 27. The news prompted a standing ovation for Matthews by the 120 RNs, NPs and nursing students in attendance during the association's Day at Queen's Park event.
Matthews made the official announcement today at Toronto's Belmont House long-term care home, saying funding will be made available to place nurse practitioners in 75 long-term care homes over a three-year period beginning with 15 this year, 30 in 2015 and 30 more in 2016.
"We're thrilled with the minister's announcement," says RNAO President Rhonda Seidman-Carlson. "Seniors in nursing homes deserve to live in a dignified and safe environment that fully meets their care needs. Now, we will be able to provide an added level of comprehensive, expert care that currently doesn't exist in our system." Seidman-Carlson adds having an NP on staff at long-term care homes will reduce the number of unnecessary transfers to hospital emergency rooms, which are both costly and inefficient. It will also reduce the emotional strain such transfers can have on elderly residents and their families.
For Doris Grinspun, RNAO's Chief Executive Officer, the announcement represents the kind of system change the association has long been advocating for, citing the advanced education and experience of NPs to diagnose and treat common illnesses as well as their expanded scope of practice to order most lab tests and prescribe medications.
"Many of the changes we want to see system-wide can be made if we look at the education and broad skill set of RNs and NPs. There is no limit to the improvements we can make, and this announcement is another example of that," says Grinspun.
She says she is particularly heartened by Matthews' announcement due to "the demands of caring for a growing number of people with cognitive and behavioural challenges. This is the reality we are facing, and we can now take some comfort in knowing that NPs will be there to help and provide their expertise."
The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated 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.
If you would like to interview an NP or RN about this or any health issue, please contact:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
Cell: 647-406-5605 / Office: 416-408-5605
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext. 209 mzych@RNAO.ca