Horwath, Fife renew call for broad inquiry into long-term care

Kitchener woman says care comes at a price and still lets her family down

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath joined Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife this morning to discuss the ongoing crisis in seniors long-term care in Ontario. Horwath again called for a broad, two-part inquiry into seniors care across the province, stemming from the circumstances of the Wettlaufer murders, and expanding to include an investigation into staffing levels, funding and safety conditions in long-term care homes.
“Seniors in Waterloo region are waiting months to get in to care, and once they find a room, many aren’t getting the care they need. Residents are being left in bed for 18 hours at a time, and don’t always get the basic help they need to make it to the bathroom on time or change their clothes regularly,” said Horwath. “Our loved ones deserve care that protects their safety, health and their dignity, and we need to find and fix these issues immediately.”
Horwath and Fife were joined by Kitchener resident Vicki McFarlane whose husband and mother both live in long-term care homes in the region.

“I spend six to seven hours a day taking care of my husband Brent and my mom,” said McFarlane. “If I wasn’t there every day, my mom wouldn’t be bathed often enough. She wouldn’t have help brushing her teeth, she would be forced to lay in bed for hours waiting for staff to have the time to help her up. She was always so well put together – she took pride in her appearance and if I wasn’t going to the home every day to help her, I shudder to think what would happen.”
McFarlane also talked about the cost associated with having two family members in long-term care. Vicki’s mom’s care costs about $2,600 per month, and her husband’s is about $1,900. Vicki also pays an additional $22,000 per year for a companion to spend afternoons with her mom – while she is at her husband’s home taking care of him. She says it’s necessary because in the afternoons, her mom is placed in a common area with other residents and very few staff to watch over them. There have been incidents of resident-on-resident violence at the home in the past.
“Vicki’s family’s situation is heartbreaking – but unfortunately not unique,” said Fife. “I get calls in my office all the time about the lack of staff at some of these homes. The staff that are there are run off their feet, and residents don’t get the time or help they need to protect their health, keep them safe and to ensure they can maintain their dignity.”
“As they always do, the last Conservative government made deep cuts to the care programs and facilities that Ontarians depend on, and Kathleen Wynne did even more damage by continuing the cuts and underfunding,” said Horwath. “Together, they have undermined the care seniors and families depend on. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can start to find-and-fix the problems that are hurting our seniors, now. We can give our parents and grandparents the care they deserve.”