Nursing home abuse and neglect targeted by task force
Moira Welsh and Jesse McLean, Toronto Star
A nursing home industry task force created after a Star investigation into elder abuse is recommending sweeping changes to fix the system that cares for 77,000 fragile seniors.
The Long-Term Care Task Force on Resident Care and Safety — the owners, associations, unions and staff of Ontario’s 634 homes — will release its report Wednesday, detailing 18 “action” points that put an overarching focus on the prevention of abuse and neglect.
It is the first time the industry has taken a hard look at itself.
The report, obtained by the Star, calls for:
• A “quality committee” of staff, families, residents in each home to fix its specific problems;
• Greater flexibility in the labour arbitration process to fire abusive employees;
• Specialized homes for abusive residents who suffer from dementia;
• Increased training for staff to handle seniors with complex behavioural problems.
Calling elderly residents of Ontario’s nursing homes the “most vulnerable people in our society,” task force chair Gail Donner said the action plan will “raise the bar” for nursing homes.
“I hope that the long-term care industry and, more importantly, the respect for the elderly, will have moved up a notch,” said Donner, a retired University of Toronto professor of nursing, who was brought in to research and write the report.
More than 2,000 families, residents, staff and administrators of nursing homes across the province responded to Donner’s call for recommendations early this year.
The action plan focused on work the nursing home sector could achieve on its own, but added several recommendations for the Ministry of Health.