Nursing home funding ‘unstable, unpredictable,’ Wettlaufer inquiry told

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Nursing home funding ‘unstable, unpredictable,’ Wettlaufer inquiry told


A chain of long-term care homes says the province should beef up funding and overhaul the way it inspects such facilities.

In closing submissions at the Wettlaufer inquiry, a lawyer representing Revera Long Term Care Inc., said the current funding model is “unstable and unpredictable.”

Former nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer, shown in 2017, is serving a life sentence after confessing to killing eight elderly patients in her care in southern Ontario nursing homes.
Former nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer, shown in 2017, is serving a life sentence after confessing to killing eight elderly patients in her care in southern Ontario nursing homes.  (Dave Chidley / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO)

It is particularly inadequate to cover the needs of smaller homes in caring for residents with dementia, lawyer Jennifer McAleer said.

The inquiry is probing the circumstances that allowed nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer to go undetected as she killed eight patients in southwestern Ontario nursing homes over the course of almost a decade.

Wettlaufer checked herself into a mental health hospital in 2016 and confessed to carrying out the crimes. She subsequently pleaded guilty to injecting the patients with overdoses of insulin.

Revera owns Telfer Place, a care home in Paris, Ont., where Wettlaufer attempted to kill a resident, who survived.

Public hearings at the inquiry, which got underway in June, are concluding this week.

Parties with standing, including Revera, are making recommendations to Commissioner Eileen Gillese in the hopes she will include them in her final report, to be released next year.

McAleer said that without adequate funding, homes cannot have sufficient staffing and infrastructure. Their ability to care for residents is compromised as a result.

She suggested the health ministry’s inspection of homes is too punitive. The process is focused more on fault finding rather than collaboration.

“The inspection process is overwhelming for staff,” she said, adding it often leaves them fearing they have made mistakes.

The sector has a difficult time recruiting and retaining employees, McAleer said. It’s hard to attract employees and turnover is high.

Homes are often forced to rely on private nursing agencies to hire temporary employees, she noted. McAleer called for better regulation of such agencies.

Theresa Boyle is a Toronto-based reporter covering health. Follow her on Twitter: @theresaboyle





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