Getting Involved in the Long-term Care Issue

A while ago, I wrote an email to Premier Doug Ford, Ministers Christine Elliott and Dr. Merrillee Fullerton – and I copied C.A.R.P. Ottawa – just because I had seen a number of articles from them on LTC. Having spent so much time in a LTC home when Mom was a resident of one – and then visits to my Aunt after that – I had a few things to say.

I didn’t hear back from Ford, Elliott or Fullerton, but I did get a call from Kathy Wright, Volunteer Board Member of C.A.R.P. Ottawa and Chair of the C.A.R.P. Advisory Working Group on Transformative Culture Change in LTC Homes. To make a long story short, I was invited to join the group, first as a guest, and then as a permanent member. We are now 6 members with help from other C.A.R.P. Chapters and organizations.

The Vision of the group is to have all LTC homes adopt an innovative model of care which looks like this: A warm, caring environment that feels like home and supports quality of life (ideally 8-12 residents). A place where all residents, staff and families are treated with dignity and respect. A place where the care is person-centered addressing resident needs – both physical and emotional, with adequate well trained full-time staff and adequate hours of “direct care” and a focus on empathy. A place where routines, schedules and activities are flexible and match resident preferences, needs and abilities. A team approach that recognizes families and caregivers as integral parts of the team and where relationships between/among staff, residents, families and volunteers thrive.

Our Mission is to raise awareness – not so much of the issues with the current system – they are already well documented – but to make people aware of how urgent real culture change is in LTC homes and of the options right under their noses. Several locations in Ontario – and even one in Ottawa – have begun or completed the transformation to one of four known successful and innovative models of care developed in different parts of the world. They are all very similar. The model most followed in Ontario is the Butterfly Model, developed in the U.K.

Results of this kind of transformation include an improved quality of care and of life, reduced boredom, helplessness and loneliness, an increase in social engagement, reduced agitation and neuropsychiatric symptoms resulting in a significant reduction in anti-psychotic drugs, reduced falls and hospital visits, reduced staff sick time, and staff feel valued and part of a community with the residents and families. Most of these results come with cost savings. Two of the units where the transition is complete were able to do so under the existing funding model and any initial outlay of costs were recouped in as few as 18 months. And – they did all of this while still meeting Ministry requirements!!

So – why aren’t the rest of the 630+ LTC homes in Ontario lining up to make this transition?? It seems like a no-brainer. Right now, it feels like we have a very tall mountain to climb. It is ever thus when government is involved and where real leadership is needed to invest in something relatively new. We will keep plugging along – we all feel very strongly about what it will take to “fix” LTC properly. The group did have a chance to do a presentation to the “Independent Commission” set up by Ford and we are anxiously awaiting their report due end of April.

If you have ideas or contacts you feel might be helpful – bring them on!


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