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Union urges province to act quickly as long-term care staff shortages persist
The president of the New Brunswick Nursing Home Union Council says 49 of the 51 nursing homes he represents have an alarming number of vacant beds due to a shortage of staff in the sector.
Sharon Teare, president of CUPE Local 1190, says there are 295 beds available at the nursing homes she represents workers.
382 people are waiting at the hospital for a place in a nursing home or long-term care facility. She said that this is mainly due to the shortage of personnel in the sector, as well as in the province’s hospitals and medical facilities.
“That number was extremely worrying,” Tire said in an interview on Monday. She said more investigation is needed to determine why the number is so high, “but we would look at the 80 percent that was the result of understaffing.”
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She said some nursing homes have up to 19 residents per personal support worker. Tyr worries about what level of care the residents can get when resources are so scarce.
“It’s really like, ‘OK, we really need to do something,'” she said. “Right now. Governments need to take some very quick collective action to figure out why and put in place the right incentives.”
Tire said that working conditions in nursing homes are not very good, leading to gaps in care for residents.
“Zero vacation. These working conditions are preventable, in a sense, because it continues,” she said. “I think this is disappointing and we are unfortunately hearing about the overuse of antipsychotics and sedatives due to lack of staff. It’s not okay, it’s not okay.”
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Cecile Cassista, executive director of the Coalition for the Rights of Elderly and Nursing Home Residents, said the numbers are worrying, especially the number of residents calling the hospital home.
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“Some families tell me that their loved ones have to stay in their bedding all day or stay in their rooms all day, so that is worrying,” she said in an interview on Monday.
Cassista said the total number of people waiting to be placed in the nursing home is about 700, most of whom are in the hospital.
She said she had written to the new Minister for Social Development about her concerns.
“But I also reported this to the premier,” she said. “Older people should not build their homes in a hospital setting, and we should do everything we can to allow them to live in the environment of their choice.”
The Department of Social Development said it is “working on various recruitment and retention projects and resolving staffing issues with the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes, individual nursing homes and other stakeholder groups.”
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“A new long-term care plan is being developed to outline ways to provide the support and services needed to help seniors live as independently as possible,” the emailed statement said. “This will offer a more comprehensive approach on a robust care continuum that can provide sustainable and high-quality services for older people over the long term.”
As of the end of July, there were 275 vacant beds in the province out of more than 4,953.
“Most vacancies are due to staff shortages, but other contributing factors are temporary bed closures due to outbreaks and lack of people on the waiting list for some homes,” the email said.
The department said vacancies could also be related to the type of services offered, issues related to the physical space, or the configuration of the building’s infrastructure.
However, despite this, Tir promises to speak openly about personnel problems, due to which valuable beds remain vacant.
“This is an unintentional neglect,” she said. “Our pensioners need it. I will not remain silent on this matter. It won’t go unnoticed.”
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