Long Term Care

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Short-Staffing Hurts Nursing Home Residents

Short-Staffing Hurts Nursing Home Residents

by NICOLE IRELAND

Thunder Bay’s nursing homes are understaffed, even as residents require more attention and increasingly complex care

“I have come home [from work] and cried,” long-time personal support worker Kristine Wilson told CBC News.

You cannot do everything that’s expected of you in a day. It’s impossible.

​Wilson has worked in several municipally run long-term care homes in Thunder Bay for 15 years, but is currently on sick leave with a back injury.

She said when she first started in the field, things were much different.

“You used to have time to spend with the residents,” she recalled. “Now you don’t.”

Wilson said each personal support worker in a long-term care facility is typically responsible for 10 residents, and often more.

She said that not only makes the work exhausting, but also affects the quality of care seniors receive. For example, Wilson estimated she only has 10 or 15 minutes to spend getting each resident toileted, washed and dressed in the mornings.

It’s like an assembly line, she said. “It’s awful.

They can’t get to the needs of people

Alice Villa said as a family member, she’s concerned about the impact of inadequate staffing on her elderly father’s care.

Lionel Trodd suffers from frontal lobe dementia and has lost the mobility on the left side of his body, as well as his ability to speak.

He has been in a Thunder Bay long-term care home for almost a year.

Villa said she believes the personal support workers there are doing the best they can, but because they are so rushed, her father is often left slumped uncomfortably in his wheelchair for long periods of time.

“They can’t get to the needs of people like my father in a timely fashion most of the time,” Villa said. “It’s not that they don’t want to. It’s that they can’t.”

The Ontario Long-Term Care Association says seniors entering nursing homes have more complex health-care needs than they used to, as advances in community-based care have allowed people to stay in their own homes for longer.


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