Ontario Long Term Care Association Calls for Expansion of Mental Health Support Teams for Seniors

Data shows specialized teams help to reduce resident-to-resident aggression caused by dementia 

Toronto, April 21, 2015 -- Staff and family members of seniors living in long-term care homes are seeing first-hand the tremendous benefits of specialized mental health teams for those living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Pointing to encouraging data from long-term care homes where the province has funded these teams, the Ontario Long Term Care Association is calling on the province to fund a specialized team in every home. 

“We are calling on the government to make the investments necessary in this year’s provincial budget,” says Candace Chartier, CEO of the Ontario Long Term Care Association. “This will allow specially trained nurses, personal support workers, and other staff to work one-on-one with residents to identify triggers and put the appropriate solutions in place to ensure they’re getting the care they need, and to protect the safety of other residents.”  

As their disease progresses, people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias lose the ability to interpret their environment or control their behaviour. Residents may become upset by intrusions into personal space, by verbal and physical interactions throughout the home, or by triggers that are hard to identify. They may react reflectively by hitting, or with angry and accusatory responses. 

The government rolled out a program called Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) in 2012, which funds specialized teams of providers to work with residents and their families to identify triggers for challenging behaviour such as aggression, and put plans in place to mitigate negative incidents. The program was implemented in a limited number of homes, and its benefits highlight the need to expand the program to all homes. Two examples:

  • Since Revera’s Riverside Place in Windsor implemented Health Quality Ontario’s Resident First program for responsive behaviors and received funding for a BSO team in 2013, the home has experienced a 40% reduction in physically aggressive behavior and a 75% reduction in physically aggressive responsive behaviours. 

  • Since the implementation of a BSO team in 2013, a Chartwell long-term care home found incidents of resident-to-resident aggression have dropped by more than 70%. 

“Understanding what triggers residents’ behaviour and how to respond appropriately takes time and specialized training, and homes don’t have enough staffing or funding to provide this on their own,” says Chartier. “Behavioural Supports Ontario teams are additional, specially trained staff. Every home in Ontario should have access to these supports to ensure safer, better care for our residents. Our seniors deserve that.” 

Additional resources:
Data on dementia, information on aggression and dementia, and BSO case studies: This is Long Term Care 2014, an annual progress report by the Ontario Long Term Care Association

About the Ontario Long Term Care Association 
The Ontario Long Term Care Association is the largest association of long-term care providers in Ontario and the only association that represents the full mix of long-term care operators – private, not-for-profit, charitable, and municipal. Our members provide care and accommodation services to over 70,000 residents annually in 440 long-term care homes in communities throughout Ontario.

For more information
Judy Irwin
Senior Manager, Communications
[email protected]