ONTARIO PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYEES UNION
Nursing homes inspection in tatters - individual complaints can take up to a year to investigate
TORONTO (June 11, 2012) - Too few nursing home inspectors mean some homes may be waiting more than five years for their "annual" inspection says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
Individual complaints are taking between 30 days and a year to investigate.
"Ontarians were led to believe that nursing homes would be under greater scrutiny following a new Long-Term Care Homes Act in 2007," says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the 130,000 member OPSEU. "Too little inspection means Ontario's seniors are being placed at greater risk."
The province presently employs 74 inspectors to investigate 2,719 complaints and conduct annual inspections at 630 homes.
"Anybody with a calculator can figure out that this is an impossible task given the resources available," says Thomas.
Any visit to a nursing home is considered an "annual inspection," including a complaint inspection.
This is not a full inspection of all programs and services in the home, a requirement prior to 2010.
Jane Meadus, an institutional advocate with the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly (ACE), says before and after the enactment of the Long-Term Care Act, 2007 the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care assured ACE that full inspections of each long term care home in the province would be conducted annually.
"They have now changed their position," Meadus says, "stating that the act only requires them to conduct 'an inspection' on each home annually, and that a complaint or other investigation is technically sufficient, a position that we disagree with."
"The result is that residents of long-term care homes are less protected under the new legislation than under the old. We are extremely disappointed with the failure of government to honour its promise to the vulnerable citizens of this province."
"Health and Long-Term Care Minister Deb Matthews owes Ontario's growing senior's population a fix to this long-standing problem," says Derrell Dular, managing director of the Older Canadians Network. "The new act is toothless without effective inspection and enforcement. Five years is a long time to wait for a home to receive proper inspection."
Each office of the Long-Term Care Unit presently has an informal goal of completing two "resident quality inspections" (RQI) per month.
That means the province has a goal of conducting 120 RQIs per year.
At that rate, it will take more than five years before all of Ontario's nursing homes receive a full inspection.
Further, for the past two years inspectors have been assigned homes for the RQI that are considered above average.
The inspectors say that it is to get them used to the new inspection regime, but it also means inspections in problem homes are delayed.
RQI inspections can take as long as 17 days to complete by a team of professionals who specialize in nursing, dietary and environmental issues.