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Toni MacAfee: Stretched to the breaking point, long term care workers deserve respect and proper compensation

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – There is a lot of debate happening around Long Term Care (LTC) and I would like to chime in as a family member with a loved one in LTC.

The workers in these facilities are doing the best they can within a system that is broken. They are picking up shifts to cover absences that management doesn’t staff, they take their turns being mandated to work past their scheduled hours, and they take on extra hours on their days off. They do all of this because they care about our loved ones. They do not want to see their care being compromised due to short staffing.

However, it should not be up to the workers to fix this situation!

Each and every LTC facility needs more staff. They need more staff so that the workers can actually do what most of them likely signed up to do, spend more time giving comfort, care and love to our family members that are ageing and getting sicker. When a LTC facility is short-staffed, this means the minimum gets done, which is not the fault of the workers. When facilities are short-staffed it means things get missed, it means that special attention cannot be given to residents that need it, it means that workers get tired and burnt out.

Yet through all of this, residents get as much love and care as the workers can give within their daily workload. When workers have down time, they should be able to sit with the residents, have a conversation, have a cup of tea, play a game of cards but they usually don’t have time to do that. When they have down time, often, they have to spend it on a computer filling out reports and doing paperwork, or spend it covering the work of an unstaffed position.

We need more staff in every single LTC facility not only within this province, but within this country. The care of our seniors and most vulnerable needs to be a priority to all of us!

The workers need to be shown more respect, and frankly they need to be paid much more than what they are. I feel their job alone, as CCA’s or LPN’s etc, gives them a huge responsibility that must be shown respect and warrants proper compensation. They are taking care of human beings that require more love and care at this time in their lives ,as many of them deal with diseases that are very difficult, both mentally and physically.

We need to stand up for the residents in LTC by demanding more staff and more resources be given to LTC as a priority. We also need to stand up for the workers in these facilities by demanding they get the respect that they deserve for doing one of the most important jobs within our society, taking care of our loved ones!

I can’t thank the workers enough for all they do for our mother! You have my love and respect. Thank you all.

See also: How can it not affect them? Residents pay for government austerity, long term care workers say


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  1. My daughter works in a small private care nursing home in Quebec and has just finished a certification that would allow her to make a bit more money in a larger facility, such as a hospital or a public nursing home. I was just talking with her about that recently but what she told me, makes me proud that she is my daughter. She said, yes, I could be making more but even though I would be working shorter hours and having more money, she would not have the time to spend with these older people that allows her to give them more quality time. She loves her job, and when I have visited her and have gone to work with her a couple of times, you see the kindness and care and respect she gives them by having that little extra time , and they respond with the gratefulness as they see that extra love and care being received. This is not always the case as at times within the home, they are very very busy but on the whole, so much more quality time is able to be given. In the larger homes, you see that kindness with the staff, but they are so under staffed, and like was mentioned above, when someone can’t come in, you need to do your own heavy workload, plus part of the other employees workload. No wonder there is a high burnout and or on the job injuries. This needs to be addressed, as we all know, there are many more seniors going to be entering care with us baby boomers.

  2. Hello everyone. Reading this article makes me happy for many reason. The fact that there is actually a conversation regarding LTC working conditions is a surprise to me as I have neither seen nor heard anything before this letter. There are a few points I’d like to add. 1. If or when there is downtime… it is interpreted by management as an facility that is properly staffed. More than likely , however , the staff is spending their break time helping or just giving 1 on 1 time to a client. There are rare occasions when the staff has time for this during a shift. 2. There are many things that staff would like to be able to do for a client but because of government police’s, our hands are tied. In closing , I would like to point out to all readers that each of us has a voice. Call your MLA or MP and support your friends. Thank you.

  3. You can tell the importance of our job in society..when the garbage recycle man gets paid more then we do….think about it

  4. I agree with all comments. They deserve to have more co-workers and compensation.
    All you have to do is spend some time visiting a LTC facility and you will see that the workers deserve better than what they receive.
    God bless them all, they are more important to our facility members that you realize. Thank You!!

  5. It always seems so unfair , to me , that those who care for the frailest, most needful people in our communities get paid the very least….In my 28 years in long term care, I have been so priviledged to witness incredible acts of mercy, kindness, and compassion every single day . These unsung hero’s bear witness to so many elders at life’s end……souls I am proud to stand and work beside. Angels in scrubs..❤

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