The biggest problem in long-term care?
Many point to low staff levels

Elizabeth Payne, The Ottawa Citizen

Virtually everyone involved with long-term care in Ontario has a story about staff shortages and how they affect the elderly. Over the past fews months, as numerous troubling incidents in Ottawa long-term care homes have surfaced, this newspaper has heard dozens and dozens of these stories, from families, staff and former staff. They include the former long-term care worker who spent time at her dying father’s bedside in an Ontario long-term care home recently. Overnight, she said, there was one personal support worker and one registered nurse on duty to oversee 52 residents on a locked ward for dementia patients. Every time one of the workers spent extra time with her dying father, she was aware that it left only one person in charge of everyone else — “which was ludicrous.” Then there is the woman who continued volunteering to serve lunch at her mother’s long-term care home, even after her death, because she did the math and there were not nearly enough staff to make sure all the residents got lunch —including growing numbers who couldn’t feed themselves.  And there is the nurse who no longer has time to say good morning to all the people she looks after. Low staffing levels have been pointed to as factors in neglect, poor care and even patient-to-patient violence in the province’s long-term care homes. They certainly are the source of frustration for residents, families and workers.

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