Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Creating better long-term care in Canada

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) recently released a report entitled Re-imagining Long-term Residential Care in the COVID-19 Crisis.
As per the news release of the report, “The COVID-19 crisis offers an opportunity to create a new, better normal at Canadian long-term residential care facilities.”
Improving long-term care is of the utmost importance for the health and safety of both residents and staff. The report makes recommendation for both the short and long-term.
Short-term recommendations include:
• making all staff permanent and limiting their work to one nursing home, this means that staff who were working in multiple homes receive full-time hours in one specific home;
• raising staff wages and benefits, especially sick leave;
• rapidly providing testing for all those living, working or visiting in homes; ensuring access to protective equipment immediately; and
• severely limiting transfers from hospitals.
In the long term, evidence suggests policymakers should:
• integrate long-term residential care into the public health care system, through federal legislation similar to the Canada Health Act, in order to develop a universal public long-term care plan that is accessible and adequately funded;
• stop privatization and promote non-profit ownership;
• ensure protective equipment is stockpiled for the future;
• build surge capacity into labour force planning and the physical structure of facilities; and
• establish and enforce minimum staffing levels and regulations.
The New Brunswick Union (NBU) supports these measures and encourages politicians at all levels to make the necessary changes to protect our seniors and those working in long-term care facilities.
This re-imagining of long-term care is overdue. The NBU has been sounding the alarm about the need for change in nursing homes in the province for several years, but these calls for change have not been heeded.
It’s unfortunate that a global pandemic might be the needed catalyst for change, but we need to do better for everyone involved.
We have avoided an outbreak of COVID-19 in nursing homes in our province due to temporary regulations put in place by Public Health as well as the hard work and care of staff.
By enacting the changes above, we will save lives now and into the future.
You can read the full report can be found here.