How to deal with Long Term Care issues during the Coronavirus period:
COVID- 19 has introduced the biggest challenge yet to Long Term Care homes. After decades of inadequate funding, this infection has brought many homes to their knees.
Residents are ill or have tested positive are now lonely in isolation
Residents in LTC account for 50% of the deaths in Ontario from this virus
Staff who struggled to have proper and sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have become ill or tested positive, depleting the already stretched staffing ratios
The Time To Care Act, first tabled in 2012, has been presented 63 times in the legislature, recent reports have all pointed to inadequate funding and low wages and benefits as causative factors in the broken long term care system.
We have written to Minister of Long Term Care and to MPPs to ask for their support to just enact the Time To Care Act and to not prolong the process by sending the bill to second reading, committee research and then third reading. We are thankful for the emergency funding that is helping homes cope with this pandemic (with varying success). To be successful after the pandemic is under control, and to face the future, a sustainable standard of care is needed as a baseline to funding: that is - four hours of touch time care supported by additional education and training budgets. The Human Resources strategy needs to immediately negotiate a living wage level for all front line workers in LTC.
How Can You Help?
By calling or emailing YOUR MPP and advocating for their support. Ask them to reach out the Minister of Long Term Care and her committee to enact the Time To Care Act NOW. We know that her team is considering many facets to improve long term care, but we see sustainable standard of care as a cornerstone in fixing this system.
To: Family Council Network Four (FCN-4) – Family Members and Staff
I know many of you are worried about the health and care of your family member in a Long-Term Care home. The media is full of frightening tales. Some homes are coping, others are struggling. You are frustrated at the no visiting rule – a harsh, but necessary limitation in this war on COVID-19. No doubt, you are also concerned about the LTC staff.
I am one of the family voices on a Provincial Advisory Committee for CLRI – Ontario’s Centre for Learning, Research & Innovation in Long-Term Care. This team – with talented leaders in LTC from Baycrest in Toronto, Bruyere in Ottawa and RIA (Research Institute for Aging) in Waterloo – provides a wealth of resources to all LTC homes.
They have partnered with a number of groups to quickly pull together and provide top-notch support, education and resources for all the LTC homes in the province. Please know that the Administrators and staff at your LTC home have many tools to tap into. The tools are ones that they can readily use or are short webinars for staff education, portals for staff to access the help that they need in finding education, training material, mental health or financial support.
As a Family Council – you can share this with your families and know that there are a variety of supports available to the Administrators for their LTC staff.
As LTC staff – you are balancing many balls in the air to meet the ever-changing guidelines and new “rules” – this link offers a “one stop shopping” for resources at your fingertips.
All the links can be found on the CLRI web page https://clri-ltc.ca/
Here is just a sampling:
Links to Family Councils of Ontario – FCO https://www.fco.ngo/ – with webinars specific to the COVID-19 pandemic and geared to families. The one "Coping with Pandemic" (April 15th) had 200 participants on the call with a waiting list. This webinar will be repeated April 28th at 2 pm. They also have unique tools to help create communication between residents and families. They also produce a daily news update.
Ontario Association of Residents’ Councils – ORAC – will be sharing a tip sheet in response to yesterday’s mandate that homes must update residents and family as to how things are. Residents in isolation are moved from their rooms and cohorted with others and are without their TVs, iPADS, etc. and do not know even how things are in the place they live. They eat alone, see staff in gowns and masks, have limited contact outside or in.
Physicians can reach out for consults with 2 day turn around to specialists via eConsult
Orientation guides for staff seconded to work in LTC in support roles to understand the culture of LTC, understand what the new “universal worker” is
Links to match Nursing Students with placement to work as PSWs in homes
Self Help Portals for staff via https://homeweb.ca/
Chair of FCN-4 Advocacy Committee
Carol Dueck, Chair Advocacy Committee met with Teresa Armstrong in August, 2018 at Queens Park and with Teresa’s office staff again in February, 2020.
Teresa Armstrong NDP MMP London / Fanshaw, is the champion for The Time to Care Act (now labeled as Bill 13). Since 2012, this bill (with various numbers attached as the parliament changed) has been presented and debated 63 times in the legislature! It has reached second reading twice before with all three parties supporting it. When a parliament is dissolved, all bills die; as happened when the election was called in 2018.
Brenda Cowan at Simcoe Wellness Fair on Leap Saturday. Able to collect many signatures for the petition for Bill 13 - Time to Care Act.
Teresa will lead the debate again May 28th, 2020. The aim is for a successful debate and support by MPPs. The bill is then directed to a committee for research to explore the impact of accepting this standard of care - the biggest impact being funding. The committee then recommends whether to forward the bill for Third and Final debate in the legislature.
To address the chronic conditions experienced in all long term care homes, private or government run, the bill demands a legislated standard of care to provide an average of 4 hours per resident per day, adjusted for acuity level and case mix.
Residents and Families see the issues every day:
PSWs workload that is unmanageable as they try to assist residents with daily activities such as of hygiene, meals, mobilization. There is simply inadequate time to complete the necessary care, leaving residents waiting and waiting. Volunteers with minimal training are coaxed into helping with feeding to reduce the incidents of cold meals.
If a infectious outbreak occurs, the staff are further challenged to manage the increased activity within the regular expected care.
Quality scores are falling with increased reports of falls with harm, medication errors, skin breakdown
Symptoms of staff suffering burnout are demonstrated with increased injury and sick time.
High vacancy rates of PSWs is an urgent issue across the province
What can you do to help achieve an acceptable Standard of Care in Long Term Care?
Petitions and sharing stories of the care problems that families encounter with their loved ones in a LTC home are two effective tools that MPPs use to influence the vote for a cause. MPPS need to hear from their constituents!
Local Family Councils are urged to sign the petition for The Time to Care Act. Mail it to the MPPs office (address is on the form). before mid May so it will be tabled at the May 28th debate.
Pick up the phone or email YOUR MPP. to urge them to support the TIme to Care Act . The Advocacy Committee sent emails to all regional MPPS in the fall of 2019. They need to hear again that this is still an urgent matter and to prepare for the vote on May 28 The more calls / letters they get, the more they pay attention to what is important to the folks in their riding.
Write a letter, signed and dated, with your address. Share a story about the concern of care issues that you or your family member have encountered in a LTC home. REAL stories make an impression when discussed in Question Period in the House.
Long Term Care
The Goal: Maintaining dignity and respect as we age
In general, Long-Term Care Homes offer higher levels of personal care and support than those typically offered by either retirement homes or supportive housing. They are licensed or approved by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and are governed by the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 (LTCHA). The requirements in the LTCHA ensure that residents of these homes receive safe, consistent and high-quality resident-centred care in settings where residents feel at home, are treated with respectand have the supports and services they need for their health and well-being.
The Ontario Ministry of Health publication related to Programs and Services for Seniors in Ontario states "Long-Term Care Homes are designed for people who need help with daily activities, supervision in a secure setting and/or access to 24-hour nursing care." Furthermore, the publication, Every Resident, outlines the Bill of Rights for people who live in Ontario Long-Term care homes.
The first two items in the Bill of Rights state:
"Every resident has the right to be treated with courtesy and respect and in a way that fully recognizes the resident's individualtiy and respects the resident's dignity.
Every resident has the right to be protected from abuse."
The purpose our committee is to ensure that these mandates are met along with the 25 other items in the Bill of Rights. To see the entire document check out this website:
Long Term Care in Ontario is in Danger
Despite numerous reports and studies provided to the government, a significant gap between the care and service needs of residents in Long Term Care remains. Almost 15% of seniors depend on others to assist them with their activities of daily living and the number is expected to triple over the next 50 years.
Presently, there are more than 80,000 people who receive care in a long-term care home and there are more than 34,000 people on the waitlist. Studies suggest that this number go up to 48,000 over the next few years without a change in the current capacity.
More than half of the residents in long-term care homes today have dementia, a third show aggressive behaviours and one in ten is considered severly aggressive. Over 30,000 residents are in older and outdated facilities, many of which do not meet current design or safety standards.
Action is needed, now!
Long term care in Ontario no longer provides a minimum standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of residents who require hands-on care. The current situation is critical. Wait lists for long term care facilities have grown longer and demographics indicate that demand for beds and complex care will continue to increase. Staff who provide direct care are experiencing increased workloads and challenges as a result of these increased acuity needs without receiving any additional support.
The situation will not get better without strong intervention. The safety and well-being of the residents and staff in our long-term care homes needs to be a priority. Staff education and training needs to keep pace with the changing needs of the resident population. More direct care staff to meet the increasingly challenging resident population with a high level of dementia is a must. View for yourself why we feel there is a need for a Call for Action!
You Can Make a Difference
Call and encourage your MPP to vote in support of Bill 13 - Time to Care Act. Click here to see who your new representative is and how to get in touch with him or her.
Get involved in our Letter Writing campaign - again go to our You can make a difference tab for information on the campaign and access to an example of a letter you can use to draft yours.
If you have a loved one or friend in a long-term care home, become a member of your local Family Council and encourage the group to become vocal on the issues. If there is no Family Council in the home, work to have one established. Learn how to get involved with a Family Council at a Long Term Care home.
Consider joining the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC), a non-partisan organization that works to maintain a strong Public Medicare system in Ontario. Check out their website: www.ontariohealthcoaltion.ca.
Want to know More?
Here is a list of websites that will give you more information about Long Term Care.
Click on the item below for details on other issues:
Help Support Improvement to Long Term Care!
Buy Your Copy of A Slice of Life.
A Slice of Life, by Nikkie Rottenberg, is a collection of short stories of twenty-six older adults living in Burlington, Ontario. They are stories of overcoming hardships, refusing to give up, finding romance and realizing dreams. All of them full of hope.
All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Family Council Network 4 Advocacy Committee to help them continue to push for policies that ensure dignity and high quality care for those living in long-term-care homes.
To purchase a copy of A Slice of Life, email:
Tom Carrothers at
Click here to read more about the book.