Mandatory Staff-to-Patient Ratios in Long Term Care
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There are not enough front line workers scheduled to care for residents in long-term care (LTC) homes whom need constant attention or 1:1 time. It is a common issue that has been argued multiple times within the Ontario PSW (Personal Support Worker) Association, however, a policy has not been established to demand that there must be mandatory staff-to-patient ratios. Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients have unique responsive behaviors, needs, and limitations. However, when employees are working in conditions that are overwhelming and mentally exhausting, dangerous situations become a potential factor. In other words, people tend to make irrational decisions when they are mentally exhausted or stressed. Many of these incidents could be avoided if there were only more staff.
In many of the LTC homes residents do not receive the most adequate or humane care they deserve because everything has to be rushed causing responsive behaviours. In some long-term care homes PSW’s are specifically told in their contract that they must spend only 15 minutes to help residents get dressed in the morning. Residents begin to show responsive behaviours when they are being moved and changed without proper explanation. Although, staff try to the best of their abilities to engage with the residents, there is simply no time to do anything other than the minimal standards of care. In addition, two trained staff are required at all times when operating a lift by Ministry standards. If there are 30 residents to a unit and only two staff are working the floor, who is going to watch the other 29 residents? Surely the Nurse who is ensuring all residents are receiving their medications, wound care and updating care plans cannot. These situations are then leaving room for incidents to happen. I am not giving long-term care homes a bad name, even the best facilities have incidents that could have been avoided, if more staff had been present.
Dementia patients have similar behavior to children; however, they do not have the cognitive capacity to comprehend information or problem solve. Many of the residents whom show responsive behaviours such as wandering, anxiousness or are exit seeking do not receive the proper 1:1 attention that they deserve. There is multiple sources of education and training that proves sitting with, comforting and redirecting residents who are frantic, helps assist those with dementia while giving them the best quality of life. Although, this is not possible with only 2-3 PSW’s working at all times.
This is why I am asking you to educate yourself on this broken system. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) are simply not aware how much attention it takes to devote adequate time to one resident who suffers from a cognitive impairment. It is simply not acceptable to allow 2-3 Personal Support Workers caring for 30+ residents. It affects the employees emotionally; the reputation of long-term care homes and residents don’t receive the proper care they deserve. Therefore, I am proposing there should be a policy stating, “A ratio maximum of 5 residents should be cared for by 1 employee.” If you agree then please help by signing your name to the petition below. You will not only be proposing for change but you will also be helping the residents and families who suffer the most from this poor health system.
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