Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Ontario Strengthening Quality and Safety Inspections in Long-Term Care Homes
Proposed New Enforcement Tools Could Include Licence Suspensions, Financial Penalties
Ontario is taking action to ensure that long-term care home operators across the province with recurring care and safety concerns provide quality and safe care for residents and their families.
While the vast majority of long-term care homes are in compliance with provincial rules and regulations, Ontario intends to strengthen its quality and safety inspection program with new enforcement tools -- including financial penalties -- to ensure that all home operators are addressing concerns promptly. These proposed new tools would include:
- Financial penalties that would be applied to those operators who repeatedly do not comply with the requirements of the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007, as recommended by the Auditor General in her 2015 annual report. Any financial penalties would not negatively impact patient care
- Provisions to enable the Minister to provide direction to long-term care homes to support improvements in care, for example directing all long-term care homes to use a new skin and wound care best practice protocol
- Establishing new offences that would provide additional protections for residents, if needed, such as an offence for failing to protect residents
- Minister and Director's authority to suspend an operator's licence and order interim management
- Improvements to the transparency of the inspection process, including publicly posting directives to long-term care homes.
The province intends to introduce these proposed changes, which require legislative and regulatory amendments, early this year.
These enforcement tools build on the province's enhanced Resident Quality Inspection strategy and are part of a continuous examination of improvements that can be made to ensure safety and quality care at long-term care homes, so Ontario families can continue to have confidence in the long-term care home system.
Supporting quality care at long-term care homes is part of the government's plan to build a better Ontario through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, which provides patients with faster access to the right care; better home and community care; the information they need to live healthy; and a health care system that is sustainable for generations to come.
- Ontario continues to make investments and improvements to the long-term care sector, including:
- Renovating 30,000 long-term care beds in 300 older long-term care homes by 2025
- Adding 75 nurse practitioners to long-term care home staff
- $10 million in funding to provide behavioural supports for long-term care residents living with dementia and others with cognitive impairments who exhibit challenging behaviour
- An enhanced Long-Term Care Homes Quality Inspection Program, which prioritizes homes based on risk, so that homes with complaints, critical incidents, compliance history and other risk factors are subject to extended inspections
- An upgraded long-term care home locator tool with the ability to compare one home’s compliance results against the provincial average.
"The safety and security of Ontario's long-term care residents remains our government’s priority. These proposed changes would expand an already robust legislative and regulatory oversight system for Ontario’s long-term care home sector. The safety, quality of care and quality of life for Ontario’s 78,000 long-term care residents are the key priorities of the regulatory and inspection regime."
— Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
"Today’s announcement by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care is a positive step forward in ensuring that the safety and well-being of Ontario’s long-term care residents is being protected. The proposed new tools are a welcome addition to those already in place, which will increase the ministry’s ability to enforce the requirements of the Long-Term Care Homes Act and its regulations and ensure that homes comply. We are very pleased that the government has taken action at this time to improve the long-term care home inspection and enforcement process to safeguard those Ontario residents who rely on these homes for their ongoing health and personal care needs."
— Jane Meadus, Staff Lawyer & Institutional Advocate, Advocacy Centre for the Elderly
"Family Councils of Ontario (FCO) supports these new enforcement tools and will continue to work with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and other sector partners towards better care and safety for all residents living in long-term care homes. We applaud the improvements to the transparency of the inspection process that FCO, families and residents have been working towards."
— Lorraine Purdon, Executive Director, Family Councils of Ontario
Communications and Marketing Division-MOHLTC