Denley: Improvements in long-term care helping as second wave arrives

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The industry and the public are waiting to find out what the provincial government is going to do about staffing. More details are expected later this week. It’s not an easy problem to fix. The work has never been attractive and Duncan says PSWs in homes that were heavily hit by COVID-19 are “exhausted, demoralized and traumatized.” That’s the blunt truth, but it’s not much of a recruiting pitch. The doomsday scenario painted by health care unions has a similar effect.

The long-term care association wants permission to hire a large number of residential support workers and train them to be PSWs on the job. It’s a worthwhile suggestion, but it would still require people willing to do the work.

Naturally, the unions are calling for higher pay, something that Premier Doug Ford has promised without putting a specific number forward. It’s far from clear that higher pay will solve the problem. Duncan says PSWs’ biggest concerns are their safety on the job and getting adequate support from medical professionals.

Both those are challenges right now. Working in a long-term care home during a pandemic is never going to be entirely safe and as hospitals gear up for flu season and surgery-backlog reduction, they won’t have as many staff available to help the care homes.

Like everything else in Ontario’s response to the pandemic, the situation in our long-term care homes is not perfect, but much has been done to improve it.

Randall Denley is an Ottawa political commentator and author of the new mystery Payback, available at randalldenley.com. Contact him at [email protected]

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