“They are stressed out”
Long-term care staff fear underfunding could lead to tragedy

Elizabeth Payne, The Ottawa Citizen

Staff working overnight at long-term care homes fear chronic underfunding will lead to tragedy, say members of the union that represents the workers. “They are stressed out,” said Louis Rodrigues, first vice-president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions. “In the nighttime, they are worried that if there was a fire or something, they couldn’t evacuate those patients, given the number of staff.” Registered practical nurses and personal support workers, who do the bulk of the work in long-term care, have long complained they are unable to provide adequate care or spend enough time with residents, given staffing levels. Many also say the situation is not safe. In some homes, as many as 40-50 patients, most with dementia and mobility issues, are under the direct care of one staff member overnight. There are no mandated staffing levels in long-term care, but the Ontario government has committed to an increase — up to four hours per patient, a level long recommended in the province. But staff, union and opposition members say that promise is less than it appears and does not go far enough. It would not happen right away and union officials argue the province’s numbers do not add up.

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