Staffing shortages in long-term care highlighted as county looks to expand

·2 min read

Grey County’s director of long-term care (LTC) says the human resource shortage in the sector has reached a crisis point.

“We're in a crisis. It's a critical shortage of health care workers across the entire system and LTC is not at all excluded from that. It is a serious and ongoing challenge,” said Jennifer Cornell, director of LTC for Grey County.

Cornell provided some insight around staffing challenges in the sector while discussing the redevelopment of LTC facilities at a county council meeting held on Thursday.

“The schedule requires 42 personal support workers (PSW) in order to staff a two-week schedule. We currently have 53 PSW on the roster, and only 36 actively working for all sorts of reasons that are approved and related to COVID and/or education leaves other things. So, we are already struggling on a daily basis to meet the base staffing requirement,” she explained.

Cornell reported that Grey's LTC leadership teams focus on staffing levels everyday.

"Just as recently as last weekend, one of the homes needed the executive director and the director of care to work the night shift to cover a PSW shortage," she said.

At Thursday's special committee of the whole meeting, Grey County council was discussing expanding the LTC facility in Grey Gables in Markdale from a 66-bed facility to a 128-bed facility. The project has since been paused after a vote by the county council. However, the county is moving forward with the redevelopment of 128 beds at Rockwood Terrace in Durham.

During the meeting, Cornell suggested that besides the financial requirements for the expansions, staffing will be another challenge.

“We have done work to determine how many additional staff we would need in order to operate 90 additional beds. And at a minimum, we need 125 additional workers, at least 60 of them need to be PSWs in order to successfully operate the 90 beds,” she said.

She added that the minimum 125 workers would also be without any buffers for leaves or sick time.

“That just gives you a sense of what's going on. We are actively working and have lots of plans, lots of outside-the-box strategies [to recruit new workers]. But, unfortunately, none of them are overnight solutions and they all come with a cost,” she said.

Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca

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