A health advocacy organization is calling for change after a survey revealed the vast majority of staff at long-term care homes across Ontario are working short-staffed virtually every day.
The Ontario Health Coalition surveyed 150 staff members from 75 long-term care homes across the province between Monday, July 10 and Friday, July 17. Over 95 per cent of those surveyed said the homes are short-staffed. Many also indicated that they felt staffing levels will only getting worse as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
"I feel very confident that this is a good indication of what is happening in homes all across Ontario, that's not to say there aren't good homes," said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition.
The lack of staff has led to deteriorated care of residents, according to those surveyed. Staff said they are unable to give proper baths, they can't devote enough time to feeding, and they are unable to devote enough time to mental health.
"The workloads have increased, the actual staffing levels have gone down even as the acuity has increased among the residents, and the pay has just not kept pace," said Mehra.
According to the health coalition, staffing levels have decreased during the pandemic because many employees who work at multiple homes have had to pick between them to reduce the risk of spreading the novel cornonavirus. Sick time and lack of child care have also contributed to additional staff shortages.
The coalition said it is calling on the Ford government to implement a strong recruitment strategy and increase wages to improve the current situation in long-term care homes, in preparation for a possible second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.