Opposition blasts Sask. government on seniors' care

Nov 26, 2015

The Opposition says it continues to hear major concerns about the care seniors are getting in long-term care homes. Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan government released its annual long term care facility reviews on Wednesday.

A number of family members, as well as former care home workers, were at the provincial legislature on Wednesday.

Linda Wacker is a retired social worker and patient advocate in the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region. She said a lack of staffing is a problem, and will take money to fix.

Linda Wacker is a retired social worker and patient advocate in the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region. (CBC)

"Lack of policies, a lack of equipment, as well as a lack of staffing to manage the care needs," Wacker said. "Long-term care homes are almost mini-hospitals and yet when you compare the staffing to a hospital, there's no comparison."

Wacker said even when money is tight, the care seniors receive in long-term care should be a priority.

She said a lack of staff is one of the biggest problems she saw in long-term care homes — despite evidence which shows adequate staffing reducing patient falls and improves the health of residents.

"Really to me it's a no-brainer. And yet the staffing ratios have not increased over the years here. And we keep hearing from the government that they have put more money into long-term care. I don't know where that money's gone. I don't see that it's hit the front lines," Wacker said.

The government also released its 2015 review of long term care facilities based on tours done by health region CEOs.

All of the regions were given a list of what is working well as well as a list of issues. The Saskatoon Health Region had one of the longest lists of issues raised. Some of the concerns raised include the following:

  • Aging infrastructure in many facilities
  • Rooms are too small
  • Infrequent bathing schedules
  • Outdated or malfunctioning WanderGuard systems
  • Lack of access to rehab therapies, other medical professionals
  • Home-like atmosphere lacking
  • Menu variety
  • Staffing levels, retention and recruitment, especially in rural facilities

The Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region also had similar issues raised. There is an action plan for each health region to address the issues raised in the review.Health minister Dustin Duncan speaks to reporters about long term care facilities in the province. (CBC)

Health minister Dustin Duncan responded to the issue infrequent bathing raised in both Saskatoon and Regina.

"We've had some replacements of the actual updating [of] things like tubs in facilities," he said. "But obviously it's a staff issue as well."

Duncan said roughly the province has purchased 700 pieces of equipment for homes. He added that many outstanding issues relate to the infrastructure of older facilities. The government said it has added hundreds of workers to care homes in recent years.

"We're seeing progress, but not all the problems have been rectified," Duncan said. 

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