Government seniors-care review does not address biggest problem

Despite its own review confirming crisis-level understaffing leaving seniors in care homes in desperate conditions, the government is not addressing chronically low staffing levels and their devastating results.

The government report, released today, shows seniors in care homes may go more than a week without a bath and are not given medications on schedule. Continent residents are left to soil themselves when no staff person is available to help them get to the toilet. The report describes short-staffing affecting morning and evening routines, with some seniors required to get out of bed at 5:30 a.m. and back into bed for the night at 5:30 p.m.

The government’s solution is a one-time fund that health region CEOs can apply for, allowing them to do things like purchase equipment.

“Building a new wheelchair ramp or fixing up a bathroom are good things,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “But nothing presented by the government today assures Saskatchewan families that a staff person will be there for their grandmas when they need help to the bathroom, getting out of bed or when their call buttons ring unanswered.”

Broten has been urging the government to take action on the chronic understaffing in long-term care to give seniors more dignity, health and quality of life.

“It’s a shame this government has been dismissive of the problems that Saskatchewan families raised. I’m glad there is some recognition of seniors’ stories in the CEO reports – but this appears more to be an exercise in the optics of listening than in actually hearing  the concerns of families and addressing them,” said Broten.

“This summer, I was talking to a man who told me about his family’s experience in seniors care. We were talking about the quality of care and he told me his dad asked him ‘is this really how it all ends?’ That’s the heartbreaking reality of seniors care under this government’s watch. They simply must do better.”

Broten advocates for minimum staffing ratios for different levels of seniors care, as well as the ministry setting basic requirements, like the number of baths and meals all seniors in care must be offered.

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For more information, contact:
Erin Morrison, NDP caucus