Saskatchewan's long-term care homes still have issues to resolve, according to newly released reports by the province's Ministry of Health.
Every year, the CEOs of regional health authorities conduct tours of their long-term care homes and report back on what is working and what needs to be addressed.
This year's reports have brought back a variety of issues, from wandering residents to staffing levels to nurse call systems. Other issues include high use of restraints in some homes and a call to increase baths to more than once a week.
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Speaking to reporters, Health Minister Jim Reiter said long-term care homes continue to be a priority for the province. Since 2014, $3 million per year has been allocated to improving issues in homes.
While Premier Brad Wall has repeatedly said every government program is on the table when it comes to cuts to balance the budget this year, Reiter said long-term care homes will likely escape the chopping block.
"While no final decisions have been made yet on the budget, we recognize the importance of long-term care," he said. "It's going to remain a priority."
He expects the annual visits to continue after health regions are amalgamated later this year.
"We just think these are extremely valuable," he said. "They're valuable not only to be transparent to the public, but they're valuable for decision makers and government."
In November, the opposition NDP called for the reports to be released to the public. They were originally due in September 2016, but Reiter said the ministry was still waiting for at least one health region's report.
Major problems have been highlighted in the past, such as a lack of baths to residents being told to soil themselves when staff cannot help them to the bathroom on time.
The reports also list initiatives that are working well, along with proposed actions to stop the problem areas.
In 2013, the province created a $10-million fund to identify urgent issues stemming from the CEO tours of long-term care facilities. There is just over $300,000 left in the fund today.