Thompson Discusses The Future Of Long Term Care
Although the 2013 Ontario budget has already been passed, the staff at Southampton Care Centre (SCC) are still advocating for the Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLTCA) and its campaign to provide safe, quality care for Ontario’s seniors.
In an effort to spread the word, staff invited Lisa Thompson, MPP for Huron Bruce to the SCC to discuss with its residents what the government is doing to ensure present, and future residents of long term care.
As part of its 2013 campaign, OLTCA has asked for an approximately $200 million investment to meet the needs of current residents. This would allow facilities such as the SCC to continue to deliver safe, quality care through the implementation of a viable capital renewal program.
"Due to the provincial focus and success of 'Aging at Home', there has been an increase in needs for residents entering such facilities as they now have more complex health requirements and require specialized treatments," a report from the SCC outlined.
Prior to her visit, Thompson received this information outlining the resources needed.
"I'm very much aware of how important it is to sustain our long term care facilities in Huron, Bruce and Grey," Thompson said, also speaking on behalf of MPP Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. "We have been long-time supporters of facilities like this."
Thompson agreed on the value of having such support so a senior's quality of life is not affected when (s)he leaves the comforts of his/her own home.
"Right now, there is such a focus on healing at home and aging at home, but I haven't seen any evidence of comprehensive vision, so we are pushing for that," she continued.
The MPP made reference to having local access to health care such as physiotherapy.
"I think we have to be tuned into the fact that as people are encouraged, and with the theme and direction there to age at home, we have to be mindful of the quality of life and care.
"If physio goes by the wayside, I've been told fall breaks might increase, so we have to watch this."
Moreover, Thompson alluded to the importance for residents to feel as comfortable as possible while living at care homes.
"I am also mindful of the fact that it is important that families have you close to home," she said to the residents and family members who met in the Beacon Room at the SCC. "We can't take you out of your comfort zone; we have to balance everything.
"We need our local facilities, like this one we have in Southampton," she continued.
A common concern in the room was the need for more staffing and funding to make improvements to the facility.
Ralph Sturgeon, a resident at the SCC, asked Thompson if there was currently any funding available that could, for instance, provide ceiling fans in the living room and dining room to help circulate the air?
Thompson sympathized with Sturgeon. She said too much money was being spent in bureaucracy in the Ministry of Health and not enough money was coming to the front line. This, she said, was something that needed to be adjusted to make more money accessible for essential items, such as those mentioned by Sturgeon and the other residents.
"The second piece of the OLTCA campaign, was looking at a more viable redevelopment program for long term care facilities, for rebuilds or enhancements," added Lisa Ohm, administrator at the SCC, "so we can provide and continue to provide a safe environment for our residents that help with reducing behaviours, help with infection control practices... all of those kinds of things."
Funding would help in sustainability for future residents moving into long term care, she continued.
For Yvonne Waugh, a member of the family council, and whose mother lives at the SCC, her hope was that the "powers that be" at Queen’s Park take a serious look at long term care facilities.
"Someday, they are going to be there, we are all getting older," she said.
Facilities are in need of more staff; renovations need to be done and they need to be run like they are a business rather than just writing a cheque and forgetting about them, she continued.
"My mom had home care for four or five years that was excellent... but it's still not the same as being here," Waugh said.
She added that facilities such as the SCC, give families the peace of mind that their loved ones are being looked after.
Ruth Johnston, a former employee at the SCC, a current resident and president of the residents' council agreed there is not enough being done to take care of seniors and asked Thompson what was being planned for the next 20 years to alleviate that problem.
"We don't look at long term enough," Thompson replied. "Be it energy, food production or health care, I am so frustrated as an MPP that everything is like a band aid solution. It's just a quick idea to solve an issue in the moment instead of looking long term and we have to do that."
"It's very upsetting, I think," replied Johnston. "A young couple, when they go out to buy a house, have to work toward buying it... you know what you want and you work towards a goal.
"I don't think people work toward a goal any more," she said.
Moving forward, Thompson said the province has to ensure that the vision for Ontario's seniors includes facilities like the SCC.
"I am coming away from this, and I am sincere when I say I want to work with Ruth on a statement (to read before parliament) because she worked in a long term care facility and now is a resident and president of the residents’ council and she has it totally locked in," Thompson said following her visit. "She's right. We have to be mindful of the changing needs and our vision has to address how people are aging longer and as a result the type of things staff and general public need to be aware of and educated of in terms of ensuring quality in life going forward."