Bruce County looks at impact of the new Fixing Long-Term Care Act, 2021

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BRUCE COUNTY – Megan Garland, director of long-term care and senior services, provided the county’s long-term care homes committee of management with an update on the Fixing Long-Term Care Act, 2021.

This piece of legislation came into effect April 11, 2022, and, as stated in Garland’s report, is designed to “ensure every resident experiences the best possible quality of life, supported by safe and high-quality care.”

She provided a number of highlights in the new legislation, for example, vulnerable sector checks including for members of the committee of management. This comes into effect in October.

Coming into effect in July is a requirement for a detailed disaster plan; new events include epidemics, pandemics, outbreak of communicable disease, gas leaks, natural disasters and boil water advisories.

Other changes are in the area of infection prevention and control, and handling of complaints. Regarding accountability, enforcement and transparency, Garland told the committee that administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) have doubled. If convicted, an individual could face a fine of up to $200,000 for a first offence and up to $400,000 for a subsequent offence. For a corporation, it would be $500,000 for a first offence and up to $1 million for a subsequent offence. The ministry is expanding its capacity to investigate and lay charges under the new legislation.

Of particular interest to County Coun. Chris Peabody, Brockton, who chairs the committee was the requirement for four hours of care as the “centrepiece” of the new legislation. This increased requirement is being funded by the province.

In response to a question from Peabody, Garland explained the provincial target of four hours of care by March 31, 2025 means direct care per resident provided by registered nurses (RNs), registered practical nurses (RPNs) and personal support workers (PSWs). Resident Support Aides (RSAs) doing PSW work are included. The ministerial order regarding RSAs expired June 11, she noted.

Peabody commented that families have commented on positive connections residents have developed with RSAs and said, “I hope we bring them into our plans.”

There is an added requirement of 36 minutes of daily direct care by allied-health care professionals such as physiotherapists and social workers by March 31, 2023.

County Coun. Steve Hammell, Arran-Elderslie, asked if the four hours was “realistic.”

Garland said the province was “looking across the sector, not at individual homes,” meaning it was an overall average goal, some homes, some weeks, wouldn’t reach.

County Coun. Luke Charbonneau commented that “massively increasing the level of care” means “we’re going to need people to come to Bruce County who aren’t here.” And that means affordable housing.

Garland said details on provincial funding aren’t available yet, and Charbonneau responded by saying that “we should be prepared for the possibility the province may not fund all that … and taxpayers may have to make up the difference.

Charbonneau mentioned daycare in addition to long-term care, and Peabody agreed that the county “needs an immigration strategy.”

Peabody told the committee he’d visited both homes the previous month and spoke with residents.

“The residents were all very pleased with the care they get,” he said, adding that he’ll be visiting again in July.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times

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