MORE CARE with more staff.

Despite the significant growth in the acuity of long-term care residents, investments supporting the hiring of additional skilled long-term care staff have not changed in the last five years.

This stable 2% investment is welcome, but it remains just enough to match pace with inflation. As such, it only addresses inflation associated with the current contracts for personal support workers (PSWs), nurses and other long-term care staff.

We believe the government must make a commitment to grow funding that will allow for the hiring of more PSWs, and more skilled staff like RNs, RPNs and NPs.

The need for registered staff such as registered nurses (RNs), registered practical nurses (RPNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) becomes even more pronounced in small homes and those in rural and remote communities where access to human resources can be compromised. Often the staffing needs of these homes are constrained significantly, in large part due to how the envelope funding program works.

Funding for residents is provided on a per-resident basis, and as such, smaller homes receive less overall subsidy with which to hire and retain staff. These homes can find themselves without the necessary resources to hire or retain an RN – never mind the necessary contingent of PSWs to support residents and their growing needs.

MAKING TECHNOLOGY EXPENSES PART OF NURSING CARE

Another solution may lie in the use of technology to help staff manage tasks more efficiently. Despite the significant growth in technologies and products available to support care, Ontario’s long-term care sector has been historically unable to leverage innovation in the same way other health sectors have. This is because of the way long-term care homes are funded.

Many homes today have to use funding earmarked for fixed costs such as utilities to purchase basic technology, like point of care terminals and tablets used to help assess and track resident needs and clinical approaches. Changing how homes recuperate costs associated with technology must be understood as a part of the staffing solution. Rather than spending time transferring written information to a centralized charting system, staff would have more time to care for residents.

WHAT DO WE NEED TO GET MORE STAFF?

  • Enhance funding for registered staff, as well as more funding for PSWs. (A 4.1% enhancement would add almost 2 million PSW care hours and 1.2 million RN care hours.) Additionally, allow small homes and those in rural and remote communities to have flexibility in how they apply this funding, to overcome their staffing challenges and meet the needs of their residents.
  • The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care should create an innovation and technology policy to ensure key enablers to innovation, such as IT infrastructure, are incented under the Ministry’s funding policy.

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