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Vulnerable Retirees Deserve Much Better

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This week’s Toronto Star exposé about neglect and filthy conditions at a Toronto-area retirement home highlights concerns the union has been raising about quality of care in these facilities.

OPSEU members who work in retirement homes have been telling us for years that the residents they see are increasingly frail, sick, and in need of more intense care than they can reasonably provide.

Intended to help frail seniors live independently, retirement homes are seeing an influx of patients with much greater care needs who cannot find beds in nursing homes.

The average wait time to get into a nursing home bed is 109 days, however, more complex patients can wait more that twice as long.

The situation has been made worse by Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) which have been aggressively pushing hospitals to empty beds of patients who have finished their acute care treatment but are not well enough to return home.

Without enough nursing home beds or home care, hospitals have been turning to facilities like the one described in the Toronto Star article.

Not only that, hospital patients may be shocked to discover that they become responsible for paying for their own care at these facilities. The Star investigation describes a 56-year-old woman who was sent to the retirement home by a hospital and who now faced a “rent” increase of $400 to $1600 a month to pay for additional care she claims she did not receive.

Last year the Coroner’s office wrote to the Ontario Hospital Association warning them about placing patients with significant care needs into retirement homes.

The letter had been prompted by the placement of a hospital patient into an Ottawa-area retirement home. Without proper care, the patient deteriorated quickly, and eventually returned to the hospital where she passed away.

Ontario needs to do better for our most vulnerable citizens. They can start by putting a stop to LHINs using retirement homes as dumping grounds for overcrowded public hospitals.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President

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