Not enough staff in long-term care
To the Editor,
Response to Kim Stamp’s letter to the editor, Nov. 24
Bravo to Kim Stamp for reminding us of the critical issue of staffing in our long-term care facilities here in Haliburton County. I speak from experience, after my elderly mother came to live with my family for six months in 2013, having suffered fractured vertebrae (spontaneous compression fractures resulting from osteoporosis), in addition to pneumonia, followed by an accidental fall while hospitalized at the Minden Hospital, which resulted in further fractures, this time to several ribs as well as her pelvis. In addition to Mom’s dementia, we struggled with caring for her physical needs 24/7, with the additional, much needed home help from PSWs (personal support workers) who came in twice daily to assist us. As a busy veterinarian, after six months of round-the-clock care, I realized that we were no longer able to provide my mother with the care and attention that she required and deserved.
My Mom is now at a long-term care home in Haliburton County and I have had to advocate strongly for her most basic needs (i.e. changing her diaper/hygiene). The nursing staff and PSWs at the facility are excellent and do their very best, given the ratio of front line care workers to elderly residents. There are simply not enough staff to care for all the needs of our elders. I have had to privately hire additional help to care for my mother from 5 to 9 p.m. every week night, to ensure that she is assisted with her supper, kept clean, and has help getting ready for bed. The extra companionship and assistance has made a tremendous difference to the quality of my Mom’s life. She and her room no longer smell of urine/feces when I visit and she is much more comfortable/content and less confused.
I realize that not everyone can afford to hire extra help to care for their elderly loved ones. I am worried and saddened about those who have no one to advocate for them. From an ethical standpoint, money would be better spent providing front line care through increasing staff (PSWs, nurses, etc.) in our long-term care facilities. I hope that the HHHS board will commit themselves to addressing this very real issue of lack of staffing in our long-term care facilities.