The Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) board issued a letter of support for the Haliburton-City of Kawartha Lakes Long-Term Care Coalition, but fell short of calling for an end to for-profit homes during its meeting May 27.

Coalition member, Trina West, who is chair of the Highland Wood family council, made the request on behalf of committee co-chair Bonnie Roe.

CEO Carolyn Plummer said the board agreed to issue a letter of support and pass a motion.

The letter of support reads, “HHHS shares the coalition’s overarching goal of enhancing quality of care and living requirements for all LTC residents. Like you, we recognize that increased funding and higher staffing levels for long-term care homes are needed to realize this goal.”

However, in regards to the coalition’s specific calls for amendments to the Canada Health Act and the discontinuation of forprofit involvement in long-term care delivery, the letter states, “we respectfully cannot take a position on these matters.”

The letter goes on to say, “We do recognize that advocacy plays an important role in influencing change and we applaud your efforts to improve the quality of care and living environment for all long-term care residents.”

Plummer also touched on the recently-released Long-term Care (LTC) Commission report. She told the board it contains 85 recommendations with a focus on pandemic preparedness, LTC funding, regulation, oversight, and support needed to enhance quality of care and quality of life for LTC residents.

“Like many others, HHHS has been advocating for several years for improvements to the long-term care sector; it is good to see this advocacy come to fruition, and we are hopeful that this report will form the basis for meaningful change,” Plummer said.

She added that HHHS has reviewed the recommendations, and made note of the ones specifically directed to LTC licensees and/or that will impact LTC licensees.

“I am very pleased to see that many of the recommendations specific to LTC homes are already in place at Hyland Crest and Highland Wood – and I am incredibly proud of our dedicated team and the work they do every day to help provide the best possible quality of care and quality of life for our residents,” Plummer said.

There are, however, some areas highlighted in the recommendations that will require additional work, and in many cases, additional funding, the CEO added.

“We have begun working on an analysis to identify gaps as well as needed resources; once the analysis is complete, HHHS will establish a preliminary plan for addressing gaps with our two LTC homes.”

She also referenced the Auditor General report on pandemic readiness and response in LTC, which contained 16 recommendations with 55 action items.

“HHHS will take into consideration the Auditor General’s recommendations when reviewing the LTC Commission’s report and recommendations, and as plans are developed to address identified gaps,” she said.  

The Haliburton-City of Kawartha Lakes Long-Term Care Coalition has a petition circulating in the communities it represents. The petition calls upon local signatories to support measures prescribed by local residents, the Registered Nursing Association of Ontario, and the province’s COVID-19 Commission including:

• ensuring four hours of direct care per resident per day;

• increasing infection prevention and health care expertise;

• improving working conditions;

• reinstating thorough inspections with consistent enforcement;

• changing nursing home culture to being more resident-centred, family/caregiver-centered, and rights-based; and

• taking the profit motive out of long-term care, moving taxpayer money from private shareholders to investing in public care.

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