'Two-thirds of new residential-care beds built in Ontario since 1998 have been in for-profit homes."
Toronto (28 Jan. 2011) - Fewer nurses, higher staff turnover, more bedsores, pneumonia, anemia and dehydration.
These are the issues facing Canada's aging population as more provinces – especially Ontario – allow the for-profit sector to drive the creation of much-needed long-term care facilities, says a new study reported by the Toronto Star.
The Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) says a mounting body of research points to a significant "quality gap" between homes built by the private sector and those built by non-profit or public organizations.
Lower staffing levels, for instance, in for-profit homes have been blamed for higher hospitalization rates among senior residents for issues such as pressure sores, pneumonia and dehydration, the IRPP study notes.
Yet almost two-thirds of new residential care beds built in Ontario since 1998 have been in for-profit homes. That's a much higher rate than in other provinces where governments are also turning increasingly to the private sector to cope with Canada's aging population, says Margaret McGregor, co-author of the study.
McGregor is a professor and research associate at the University of British Columbia (UBC).
In the next 30 years, about 120,000 new long-term care beds will be needed to handle the estimated 1.6 million residents who will be 85 and older, the study estimates. The 41-page report analyzes research from a number of independent studies in the U.S. and Canada.
Currently, only one in five Canadian seniors requires long-term care, the report says. While this may seem a relatively small number, Canada actually has one of the highest rates of institutionalization in the world when compared to countries such as Denmark, which have created a host of programs to keep seniors in their homes as long as possible, McGregor notes.
The report does not recommend a moratorium on new for-profit homes but it does call for a number of measures to improve quality. These range from mandatory minimum staffing levels – at least 3.5 hours of care per day per resident – to regular surprise inspections and anonymous surveys of residents, family and staff.
McGregor says many homes currently provide less than three hours of care per day per resident.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
• IRPP Study: Residential Long-Term Care for Canadian Seniors