Re: Toronto Star – “We had to Protect my Grandmother”

A letter to the Editor of the Toronto Star, by Candace Chartier, CEO, Ontario Long Term Care Association

September 17, 2015

I was saddened to read the story of the pain and suffering of a resident in a long-term care home in Ontario. Long-term care homes, their staff, the nurses and physicians, all work tirelessly each day to provide the best care to residents. These stories are certainly a reminder of the work that still needs to be done. 

Increasingly, we see residents coming into long-term care with an existing, challenging wound, often after a long stay in the hospital or after a critical incident at home.  It is our job to improve that resident’s well-being. And our quality improvement efforts are focused on just that: in 2014, 92% of homes across Ontario have made it a priority to both prevent pressure ulcers and to develop comprehensive programs to provide the right level of wound care as quickly as possible for existing wounds. Thanks also to government investments, homes have been able to provide enhanced mattresses and other specialized surfaces for residents. In many homes across Ontario, these new programs are already making a difference and improving the well-being of their residents. But we know in cases like these, we can do better.

National statistics from the Canadian Institute for Health Information show that that the proportion of residents who develop new or worsening pressure ulcers in long-term care is relatively low at around 3%. However this figure has not changed for many years, and suggests there are systemic barriers to improvement, despite our quality improvement efforts and increased funding for supplies. Seniors entering long-term care require more staff time and specialized medical care than they did in the past. While we understand the government’s fiscal challenge, investments in adequate staffing levels has not kept pace with this need. We can and want to do more. We remain extremely committed to working in partnership with government, residents and their families on improving wound care and resident well-being across the province.