The Liberal government says it will more than double the number of inspectors to thoroughly probe long-term care homes, so each facility can be scrutinized annually. The pledge from Health Minister Deb Matthews follows high-profile incidents and the NDP’s revelation last week that in the last three years, only 123 of Ontario’s 633 facilities had a full Resident Quality Inspection (RQI).
An unannounced RQI inspection, which can take two weeks and includes numerous interviews with residents and staff, was expected annually in every facility after the government’s Long-Term Care Homes Act came into force in 2010. “We’re really beefing up . . . we didn’t know how intensive those inspections would be,” Matthews told reporters Monday at a retirement home. By the end of 2014, every facility will have had a RQI inspection and they will be completed annually afterwards, she said.
About 100 new staff will be hired to get the inspections done, Matthews said, more than doubling the existing 80 inspectors. The increased staff is expected to cost about $12 million.
One of the homes that hasn’t had a RQI inspection in the last three years is The Wexford Residence. The Scarborough home was recently the subject of a scathing provincial report alleging the facility failed to protect its residents from each other in March, when one was beaten to death and another injured. “I think there have been some high-profile incidents . . . that perhaps helped (the minister) change her mind about the necessity of having more detailed inspections,” said Rick Janson of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
Since 2010, there have been 6,700 total inspections in long-term care homes but most have responded to and focused on specific complaints and incidents. Increasing the number of thorough inspections is a good first step, Janson said, but increasing front line staff and training is still needed.
In question period on Monday, NDP health critic France Gélinas said Matthews was pushing an expired deadline for an unfulfilled promise. I feel like I’m having a really bad case of déjà vu all over again because the same minister made the same announcement in 2010,” Gélinas said. Matthews acknowledged the government had “not met the commitment we made to residents of long-term care to do a thorough resident quality inspection every year.”
However, she said, the legislated requirement was met because some sort of inspection was completed annually in each home, even if it was responding to a specific incident rather than a complete annual inspection. “We think residents of long-term care deserve to have the confidence that they are receiving the highest-quality standards of care in our long-term-care homes,” Matthews said.
By: Carys Mills News reporter, Published on Mon Jun 10 2013