Newsletter March 2011

While it does not look like spring outside my window today, (with the snow falling) we do know that the month of March brings many things along with the hope of warmer days. It is also known as National Kidney month, Liver Disease month, National Epilepsy month and if that was not a busy enough month, Social Work week fell in there as well.

Social Work week (which was the first week of March) provides the perfect forum to say thank you to all of the wonderful social workers with whom we work everyday, including many members of our Elder Caring team. Thank you!

The theme for this newsletter is about looking ahead, including the  preliminary regulations for retirement homes.

Elder Abuse
How far will people go?      

An article in the Toronto Star on February 28, 2011, described one particularly awful case of elder neglect/abuse. An elderly woman with Dementia was forced to live in her son and daughter in-law’s garage with little to no heat or supports.  She  managed to fall between the cracks in the health care system but fortunately did not completely disappear from society’s view. 

Unfortunately, this is not the first time media sources have printed articles disclosing the issue of elder abuse. Back in October 2010 there were a number of stories depicting elder abuse within the community, more specifically in retirement homes. As a result of this injustice, a number of community agencies and advocate offices campaigned for stricter guidelines and regulations for Retirement Homes.

At the end of February 2011 the Ontario Senior Secretariat and the Ontario government proposed new legislation, Bill 21, The Retirement Homes Act. The Act will address care and safety standards, resident rights and protections as well as licensing, inspection and enforcement within retirement residences.  There are approximately 628 retirement homes across Ontario housing 43,000 residents.

Some key points of interest: retirement homes must submit and be approved for a license in order to operate a retirement home. They must follow a code of ethics, ensure residents have a plan of care that outlines appropriate services and support and provide an environment where a residents’ council can be created independent of the residence staff.

All staff must pass a police background check and have undergo the proper training (must be familiar with the resident’s bill of rights, fire prevention, policies describing zero tolerance of abuse, protection afforded for whistle-blowing, etc.). Updated policy and procedure guidelines need to be on hand for care and safety concerns (i.e. confinement, assistive devices, informed consent and restraints).

To view the full Retirement Homes Act, please click here.
Food for thought – will this be enough to help protect the elderly?

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