Listen to Ontario’s residents about long-term care reform | Sinead Dowdy

The province of Ontario is acknowledging the need for a culture change and has implemented changes to improve the lives of people who care for the elderly and frail. The new Ontario Long-Term Care…

Listen to Ontario's residents about long-term care reform | Sinead Dowdy

The province of Ontario is acknowledging the need for a culture change and has implemented changes to improve the lives of people who care for the elderly and frail.

The new Ontario Long-Term Care Homes Quality Review, released in February 2019, is a useful first step. I attended the launch event for the review and heard about progress made since 2015, when I worked at Ontario’s Ombudsman’s Office.

Ontario must listen to its voters and overhaul its long-term care system | Theresa Coyle Read more

A number of important steps have been taken since I left my post. But there’s still much to do. And the biggest change of all was getting Ontarians to act.

Everyday voices that listen were heard. We’ve never needed it more. Ontario’s residents want to be heard and to have their views taken seriously by governments and health care providers. They know that poor quality of care is unacceptable.

Last year, our government heard very strong input in a consultation on legislation to amend the Ontario Care Act, which governs the country’s long-term care services. We heard the experts’ call for safeguards to help those living in long-term care and to protect them from abuse, mistreatment and neglect. And we heard from residents, caregivers and family members about how important it is to provide services that make life easier and more comfortable.

We’ve also heard the calls for action from government. We needed to improve the effectiveness of the independent ombudsman’s investigation unit and strengthen the Ombudsman’s oversight authority to protect vulnerable people.

The review recommendations have resulted in a strengthened Ombudsman’s office, the creation of a Complaints and Investigations Unit, and increasing staff and resources. They’ve been incorporated into new legislation, the Health Care Quality Act, which will be passed later this year.

These changes were needed and put into effect under a new legislation, the Ontario Care Act. Instead of waiting for legislation to act, we’ve initiated reforms to the way we investigate and review systemic issues in the system.

Two cheers for Ontario’s long-term care reforms – but there’s much more to do Read more

We’ve engaged more than 4,000 health care professionals to improve long-term care. They deserve praise for their willingness to meet us at their workplaces, attend education sessions, and attend consultation events in the community. Some 400 health care providers have been trained in issues such as isolation and isolation anxiety.

The new Ombudsman’s office is particularly focused on protecting seniors and vulnerable people from the risks of abuse, mistreatment and neglect.

We’ve created a dedicated office to deal with complaints from people who have experienced mistreatment or neglect at the hands of their care providers. We’ve amended the legislation to improve the investigations and reporting process.

I commend the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Ministry of Labour for their continued cooperation and commitment to implementation.

These reforms demonstrate what is possible when authorities work together in a safe and collaborative environment. Everyone can and should play a role in making long-term care better. We hope to continue to work with Ontario’s health care sector and with the public to improve care and take action to protect vulnerable people and improve the lives of people who care for the elderly and frail.

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