Politicians spar over long-term care standards

The Opposition NDP says minimum standards are required to ensure residents of long-term care facilities are getting the care they need.

The provincial government is facing renewed criticism over long-term care facilities.

On Thursday, in the new session of the legislature, the Opposition NDP said minimum standards are required to ensure residents are getting the care they need. The NDP says the standards should include benchmarks for time spent with a patient and staffing levels.

The NDP is following up on criticisms it has raised after a new policy, which eliminated minimum standards, took effect two years ago.

"A mandatory minimum ... allows family members, allows health care workers to point to a basic standard that should be there," NDP leader Cam Broten said Thursday. "And when that standard is not being met, there ought to be accountability for that."

Broten noted care facilities used to be required to ensure that patients would be allotted at least two hours a day for their care needs.

The government counters that setting a minimum time is not a good idea and that it makes more sense to allocate patient time based on specific needs.

Dustin Duncan, the minister of health, defended the new approach Thursday.

"What we need to be doing is saying, 'What do you want as a resident? Do you want to get up at 8 o'clock in the morning and have breakfast at 10 o'clock? Maybe you don't want to get up until 9 o'clock in the morning.' But that's based on the individual need of that resident, not based on a mandate put in by the province," Duncan said.

The NDP said personalized care is ideal and should start with ensuring there is a basic level of care being provided.

Duncan added that the government is working on a new initiative that would see feedback from long-term care residents and their families sent directly to the minister of health.

(With files from CBC's Stefani Langenegger)


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