Healthcare Media release

PSA: Letter to Premier on iPads and nursing home staffing levels

OPEN LETTER

April 1, 2020

Premier Stephen McNeil

Dear Mr. Premier,

We are writing to commend you and your government for the decisive leadership which you are providing during this incredibly difficult time with the Covid-19 crisis. We especially appreciate the daily briefings which you and Dr. Strang are providing. They have been very informative and comforting.

Last Friday, March 27, you announced that up to 800 iPads will be distributed to long-term care homes across the province, starting in April.  As a group of family members who have or had loved ones in nursing homes, we applaud this initiative to help nursing home residents stay connected to their loved ones at a time when all nursing homes are closed to any visitors including family members.

At the same time, we are concerned that many, if not, most nursing home residents (especially those with dementia) may need assistance from nursing home staff at a time when staff are least able to provide it.  We have had some experience in assisting our loved ones to use iPads and other devices, and we know that such assistance is often necessary.

For us, this raises the broader question of staffing levels in long-term care during this very difficult time, especially when the presence of Covid-19 has been confirmed in three long-term care facilities.  We are also distressed with the news from other provinces about the rising number of cases and deaths in long-term care facilities.

We therefore urge you to mount a special initiative to increase the levels of qualified staff in all nursing homes and residential care facilities.  Chronic underfunding and understaffing have been persistent problems for the long-term care sector. More than ever before, this is a time when all the necessary funding and levels of qualified staff should be in place for our long-term care facilities. 

It has been our experience that a ratio of one qualified caregiver to four residents is essential to providing a high quality of safe and appropriate care, and especially now, with the increased likelihood of the presence of Covid-19.  We need many more staff than ever before to prevent and address this terrible virus in nursing homes, and of course, across our public health care system.

We hope you will give serious consideration to our concerns and recommendations.  We are willing to assist you and your government in any way we can during this very difficult period.

Yours sincerely,

Gary MacLeod

Chair, The ACE (Advocates for the Care of the Elderly) Team

c. Hon Randy Delorey

Tim Houston, PC Leader

Barbara Adams, PC Long-Term Care Critic

Gary Burrill, NDP Leader

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