Sue McDonald is a Member of CARP, an Ottawa Advocacy Working Group on Long-term Care
If you want to see real change in our long-term care homes, CARP (Canadian Association for Retired Persons) Ottawa urges you to send this message on transformative culture change to your local MPP or City Councillor – or copy and forward this article to them. Here’s why —
The tragic loss of life in long-term care homes due to COVID-19 has exposed many of the problems that have plagued Ontario’s Long-Term Care Home system for many years.
Many strategies have been tried over the years to repair the system, including stronger policies and more regulations, investments in staff, support from specialists, and increased oversight by government. However, it is evident that these have been insufficient to appropriately address the inherent weaknesses in the current system.
CARP Ottawa has recommended a transformative culture change for Ontario’s long-term care home system as the most effective means of improving the quality of life and care of residents and of dealing with the inherent weaknesses exposed by the current crisis.
There have been a number of innovative models that have embraced this culture change in the U.S., Europe, Australia and recently in Ontario. Examples of these are the Eden Alternative, Green House Project, Butterfly Homes and Hogewey Villages.
The common elements of these models have been:
- Using a relationship-based approach to care where resident, staff and families feel part of a community;
- Setting up small home-like environments;
- Providing more hours of direct care for residents;
- Employing full-time well-paid staff who are trained in empathy and culture change;
- Recognizing families and caregivers as integral members of the team;
- Engaging volunteers who are trained in empathy and culture change.
The benefits of these models include decreased use of medications, decreased number of aggressive incidents, decreased visits to hospitals, reduced food waste and reduced staff sick time, all while increasing positive interactions with staff, families and residents.
There is a growing awareness of the pressing need for significant reform in the long-term care home system.
We owe it to current and future residents of long-term care homes to change a system that has not always provided them with safe, quality care, focused on their individual needs.