Provincial government completes 18 of 91 long-term care inquiry recommendations
An advocate for long-term care residents says the most important recommendations have yet to be addressed
The Ford government says they have completed a total of 18 recommendations from the public inquiry into long-term care homes, but a lawyer who advocates for long-term care residents says the province still has a long way to go.
On Thursday, Merrilee Fullerton, the minister of long-term care, said the province has been working hard on implementing the recommendations set out in Justice Eileen Gillese's four-volume report, stemming from the Public Inquiry into the Safety and Security of Residents in the Long-Term Care Homes System.
"Our government is grateful to Justice Gillese, commissioner of the public inquiry, for providing strong recommendations to help us improve our long-term care system," Fullerton said.
Back in July, Gillese set out 91 recommendations after a commission examined how former long-term care nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer was able to kill eight seniors by administrating lethal doses of insulin without getting caught.
Some of the recommendations that the government has fulfilled include several on medication safety, particularly the best practices for safe insulin policies, including clear expectations on training and on reporting insulin-related medication incidents.
"Anything that helps support the care and safety of residents is a good thing," said Samantha Peck, the executive director of Family Councils Ontario, an organization that supports families of long-term care residents.
"Ontario's residents live in those long term care homes and as such deserve the best care and safety possible, particularly regarding medication management. The sector as a whole, government and stakeholders, have a moral duty to ensure that we're serving long term care residents to the best of our abilities."
For Jane Meadus, a lawyer who advocates for residents of long-term care homes, she says there's still much to be done before seeing major improvements in the system.
"We still have a lot of recommendations to be implemented," she said. "I think some of the most important ones are still to come."
Meadus says those recommendations surround funding and policies.
"It's also a little bit unclear on what [they're doing]. I'm looking for more detail about how exactly they're implementing these recommendations," she added.
Province looks into staffing strategies
Fullerton also announced the launch of a study that will look into staffing strategies to be implemented by the end of the year, while addressing a key recommendation of the public inquiry on determining adequate levels of long-term care staffing.
"We know that there are challenges happening with regards to human resources within the long term care sector," Peck said. "Families have spoken to us about challenges in ensuring that shifts are staffed."
"The vast majority of long term care homes, and I won't say 100 per cent, because I'm not 100 per cent certain, but I'd wager that they're all working to ensure that staffing levels are appropriate," she added.
The study will also examine ways to optimize recruitment and retention of personal support workers and registered staff.
With files from the CBC's Kerry McKee and Jonathan Pinto