October 14th, 2020
October 14th, 2020
SAULT STE. MARIE — Andrea Horwath’s overhaul of home care and long-term care will not only deliver a better quality of life for aging Ontarians, but also help northern families stay close with their loved ones.
The Official Opposition New Democrat Leader is virtually visiting Sault Ste. Marie Tuesday to talk to health care leaders and frontline health care workers about her newly released plan: Aging Ontarians Deserve the Best, which overhauls home care and long-term care. The plan will build 50,000 nursing home spaces using a new model of small homes, rooted in community – and all public and not-for-profit. The plan will end the practice of denying families in Sault Ste. Marie the kind of care and services they deserve and should expect.
“We have to take action now to make sure people are safe in nursing homes and during home-care visits throughout the second wave. Then we have to overhaul the system to make seniors care not something we dread – something that takes away our quality of life – but something that maintains or improves our quality of life as we age,” said Horwath. “Part of that overhaul is ending the gloom of living in institution-like facilities that will never feel like home, and building small, comfortable homes in our own communities.”
Under the new model, residents will live in communities of six to 10, sharing spaces like dining and living rooms. In small communities, it could look like a regular home in a neighbourhood, and in urban centres it could look more like a small community of villas. In the north, that means families will be able to stay close together, said Horwath.
“Too often, northern families are separated when the only long-term care space your loved one is offered is an hour or more away,” said Horwath. “That has a profound impact on our parents in long term care. It doesn’t happen as frequently in the bigger cities in southern Ontario, and it should never again happen to families in the North. That’s why we’ll build more, small, family-like homes, so people can stay in their own community, and stay closer to their family. You should be able to easily pop over to your mom’s new home, rather than drive an hour to visit her.
“I’m going to invest in care that is responsive to your parents’ culture and language, so their long-term care home really feels like their family home. I’m promising a law that guarantees that couples can stay together – never separated by wait lists or by different care needs. And I’m going to ensure family caregivers are more than just visitors. You will be essential care partners.”
Horwath’s overhaul comes after 30 years of Liberal and Conservative governments privatizing, underfunding and under-regulating long-term care, paying for-profit corporations to construct big, warehouse-like facilities where they cut corners in order to pocket more profit.
“We can have a system where every last dollar goes into better care, and better quality of life for our loved ones,” said Horwath. “Your parents deserve to be better off, no matter how much money is in their retirement fund, and you deserve to have the peace of mind that comes with that.”
Marie DellaVedova, whose mom spent her last weeks in long-term care
“My mother’s needs were great but I believe that every long-term care resident is entitled to have their needs met. Today’s long-term care residents, like my mother, often have complex and numerous needs. That means long-term care homes must have more staff, including nursing staff and PSWs, in order to provide the nursing care and the personal support that residents need to keep them safe.”
Ellen Eddy, whose dad entered long-term care recently, during the pandemic
“My dad has been in a long-term care home for under three weeks. In that time, there have been three situations that have resulted in different levels of care because they were short-staffed. What I would like to see is more individual care for each resident and especially those that are new to the home. There cannot be any quality of care if they are constantly short-staffed. The staff are very professional and caring, which I am thankful for.”
Currently the Ontario government directly budgets $4.6 billion for long-term care and another $3.2 billion for home care. An estimated $645 million is spent in community supports and it is estimated another $375 million is spent caring for seniors in hospital beds while they wait for home care or long-term care. That is a total of $9 billion dollars.
The NDP plan includes record investment into better care and better living. The total cost of the plan is $750 million per year in each of eight years for one-time capital investments; plus $3 billion in annual operations costs, which represents a 30 per cent increase to the $9 billion currently spent annually for home and long-term care, which will be phased in with annual increases over six years.
The NDP plan includes:
1. Overhauling home care to help people live at home longer
Ending the for-profit, understaffed patchwork of home care companies that make seniors wait and fail to address the inequities. This includes bringing the system into the public and non-profit sectors over eight years, as well as new provincial standards for home care services, and culturally-appropriate resources, training and job-matching
2. Making all long-term care public and not-for-profit
Ending greedy profit-making at the expense of quality of care. Horwath is committing to phase out for-profit operators within eight years, and increasing financial reporting, transparency and accountability during the transition period.
3. Building small, modern, family-like homes
The gloom of being warehoused in institution-like facilities is over. An NDP government will immediately start building small nursing homes that actually feel like home. Based on best practices from around the world, the NDP will build smaller living spaces shared by groups of six to 10 people. In a small town, it could look like a typical family home. In bigger cities, it could look more like a neighbourhood of villas.
4. Staffing up with full-time, well-paid, well-trained caregivers
Instead of the revolving door of staff run off their feet, the NDP will give personal support workers a permanent wage boost of $5 an hour over their pre-pandemic wages. The NDP will mandate enough staff to guarantee at least 4.1 hours of hands-on care per resident per day, establish a dedicated fund for training personal support workers, and more.
5. Making family caregivers partners
The NDP will treat loved ones like more than just visitors, including creating a provincial Caregiver Benefit Program and ensuring every home has an active family and resident council.
6. Creating culturally responsive, inclusive and affirming care
The NDP will make sure seniors feel at home, surrounded by their language and culture, and make sure 2SLGBTQIA+ seniors can always live with Pride. This includes partnering with communities, Indigenous nations and 2SLGBTQIA+ communities to fund community homes, and more.
7. Clearing the wait list
Clearing the 38,000-person wait list that can mean years waiting for a bed, and even longer for a culturally appropriate home. The NDP will create up to 50,000 spaces and eliminate the wait list within eight years.
8. Guaranteeing new and stronger protections
Comprehensive inspections, a Seniors’ Advocate, and more will ensure care never goes downhill again.