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Admissions suspension at Peterborough long-term care part of systemic challenges, advocates argue

Click to play video: 'Long-term care advocates weigh in on decision to suspend admissions at St. Joseph’s at Fleming in Peterborough'
Long-term care advocates weigh in on decision to suspend admissions at St. Joseph’s at Fleming in Peterborough
Suspending admissions at a Peterborough long-term care home is the latest alarm indicating the sector needs more help, according to several groups advocating for better care. The province issued the decision for St. Joseph's at Fleming over concerns of health and well-being. Robert Lothian has more on the systemic challenges facing long-term care – May 9, 2024

Ontario advocacy groups for long-term care residents say the suspension of admissions at a Peterborough long-term care home points to systemic challenges across the sector.

As Global News first reported on Monday, as of May 2, resident admissions were suspended at St. Joseph’s at Fleming long-term care in the city’s west end. The Ministry of Long-Term Care’s inspections branch director stated there was a “risk of harm” to residents’ health and wellbeing or those being admitting.

The suspension — in effect until further notice by the ministry — came following inspections in February and March. The ministry highlighted in an extensive followup report multiple incidents of improper resident care and neglect by staff, issues with staffing and resident-to-resident abuse.

One specific incident highlighted an “unexpected” resident staff which ministry inspectors stated a “series of “failures and omissions” impacted the resident’s life.

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St. Joseph’s at Fleming’s CEO Carol Rodd has declined to comment on the report, stating that the ministry will answer inquiries. Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith also did not respond to requests for comment.

The suspension has caught the attention of the Ontario Association of Residents’ Councils (OARC) which advocates for long-term care residents’ rights. It also educates residents’ councils about their roles and responsibilities. Each long-term care home in Ontario is mandated to have a residents’ council and is required to engage with them on quality improvement initiatives.

Click to play video: 'Ontario suspends admissions at Peterborough long-term care home'
Ontario suspends admissions at Peterborough long-term care home

The OARC intends to reach out to the residents’ council at St. Joseph’s at Fleming.

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“I can tell you that this is probably a very sad — and most likely — a scary time for residents living in the home,” said Dee Tripp, OARC executive director.

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Tripp applauds the province for inspections that are focusing on residents’ needs and their rights.

“Anything that points to resident abuse, resident neglect, residents’ bill of rights — whether, you’re short-staffed or not — residents deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” she said.

Tripp says many inspections uncover issues within long-term care homes that point to systemic challenges across the sector, mainly underfunding and the need for more personal support workers (PSWs).

“So many homes are struggling to have enough PSWs,” she said. “They can’t find a nurse even in their area.”

Another advocacy group, Concerned Friends, analyzes each long-term care home inspection report issued across Ontario. Board of directors president Kristle Calisto-Tavares says the St. Joseph’s at Fleming admissions suspension is not out of the norm.

“From our perspective, non-compliance in the long-term care sector is a bit of a norm,” she said.

Calisto-Tavares says many long-term care homes face similar challenges, leaving thousands of seniors still in need of care. She says to improve the system, more pro-active, unannounced inspections are needed.

In January 2024, Ontario launched a new long-term care home investigations unit, investing over $72 million for the 10-member team to tackle the most serious acts of non-compliance at LTCs.

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“And in many cases that does mean greater funding toward one of the biggest challenges that most homes have in operating — which is a staffing model that is simply not robust enough to serve the needs of those living there,” said Calisto-Tavares.

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