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Personal Support Workers & LTC

Posted Jun 24 2010 12:00am
  Jun 23, 2010
As front-line workers in the overburdened long-term care system, PSWs are the...

"PSWs are the most intimate point of contact for 75,000 elderly Ontarians living in government-supported nursing homes, helping with everything from feeding to toileting."

While these Long-Term Care (LTC - not 'nursing homes' - there are fewer nurses) are homes run on government support, most (about 500 out of the 600 in Ontario) are for-profit institutions. Thereby lies the rub. And regulation of retirement homes isn't going to help.


We need consistently trained, responsive, responsible PSWs who are accountable, registered and regulated. I am not sure that the training is entirely the issue, either. It is making the for-profit institutions accountable to taxpayers and residents for effectively-managed staff. The work formerly done by nurses is now being done by PSWs: changing bedding, changing incontinence products, toileting of incontinent residents, which requires a great deal of intimate interaction. Rumours of for-profit institutions demanding that adult diapers be held back are horrifying.


Those who complain about seniors being neglected are justified. However, this is also a function of taxpayers unwilling to pay HST, or higher taxes to provide such care. There are socioeconomic issues. In my case I put my father in LTC in a private room. He was loud, sang at the top of his fully-functioning lungs, had fights with other men in wheelchairs, and once pulled the fire alarm. These are people with dementia, with few inhibitions. They need utmost care and vigilant attention. Dad's personality changed and the myth of the benign senior abounds. Those with mental health issues are trouble in LTC. We were forced to put Dad in a private room, as his behaviour was intolerable. It was well worth the money. 


There is a lack of money for enough PSWs. The physicians have about 200 patients per floor, the nurses do not always understand a resident's case. The Silver Tsunami is wreaking havok on our system.

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