Report: Improving safety in long-term care facilities

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

A public inquiry requested by the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) has resulted in numerous recommendations to enhance the safety and care of residents in long-term care facilities.

Helmed by Justice Eileen E. Gillese, the Public Inquiry into the Safety and Security of Residents in the Long-term Care Homes System’s final report provides 91 improvements for the long-term care (LTC) sector. The inquiry was motivated by the actions of former nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer, who was convicted of murdering eight senior citizens in an LTC facility. It aims to bolster resident safety through by building greater capacity, staff training, improved medication management, and incident detection and prevention, among other strategies.

Recommendations highlighted by the RNAO include:

  • The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care increase the number of registered nursing staff in long-term homes by undertaking a study and tabling results in the legislature by July 31, 2020.
  • LTC homes should adopt more robust hiring and screening practices, including background checks.
  • LTC homes must enact measures that will improve training with respect to hiring, management of staff and discipline.
  • Homes should require directors of care to conduct spot checks on evening and weekend shifts.
  • Homes should maintain complete discipline histories for each employee
  • The MOHLTC encourage, recognize, and financially reward long-term care homes that have demonstrated improvements in the wellness and quality of life of their residents.

“While we can’t undo the unimaginable terror Wettlaufer inflicted, we can honour the memory of the victims and the loss of their families by acting now to fix endemic problems in long-term care,” said Cooper Brathwaite, RNAO president. “Every resident deserves to live with dignity and support, and as a society we owe it to residents to take the steps recommended by Justice Gillese.”

Cooper added the tools for providing stronger care are already within reach, noting, “We have excellent nurses, proven best practice guidelines and, thanks to the inquiry, even more knowledge about where our system falls short … We urge the Ford government to quickly adopt the recommendations of the inquiry by working collaboratively with nursing associations and other stakeholders because residents in long-term care and their loved ones deserve no less.”

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