More than 50 long term care workers and Unifor leaders took part in an Ontario lobby day urging immediate improvements to the long term care sector.
Members participated in an afternoon training session the day before and set off on December 4 to lobby Members of Provincial Parliament of all political parties about the need for four hours of direct, hands-on care for all long term care residents.
“Our members talked about their first hand experiences working in long term care and how it connects to the need to have more time for direct care so that each day they are not facing heavier and more complex patient needs which cannot be met,” said Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi.
During the meetings, Unifor members told heartbreaking stories of not being able to be there for residents in their final hours, having to manage violent residents on their own and risking their safety, working through all of their breaks so that residents can be cared for and returning home exhausted and bruised at the end of the day.
“I was a very proud of the long term care workers who participated in the lobby day – they are the real experts in why Ontario needs four hours of direct care and stricter accountability for long term care providers,” said Health Care Director Andy Savela. “What people may not realize is that many long term care homes are run as for-profit businesses – if there is not a minimum standard of care, where is the accountability?”
The union also launched a new video entitled the #6minchallenge, which calls on members, supporters and elected officials to try to get ready in only six minutes in the morning. This is the approximate time personal support workers have to prepare residents for breakfast in the morning.
The lobby occurred only weeks after the province announced it would be moving towards a set number of hours of care, as part of the Ontario’s Aging with Confidence: Action Plan for Seniors. An Act to amend the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 (Bill 33) also recently passed second reading, with all party support. The bill would require four hours of direct, hands on care for all long term care residents.
Unifor activists voiced concerns about the government’s new action plan, in that the calculation for four hours of daily care is based on hours paid to staff (including administrators and managers as well as vacation time), as opposed to hours worked delivering direct care. To date, it is also unclear how and when implementation will occur.