Tuesday, November 26th, I spoke on the Legislature in a Members Statement on Personal Care Homes and our recent Forum, and then I asked questions of the Minister of Health. My Members Statement and Questions are below:
Members Statement about our Forum on Personal Care Homes
Last Saturday, the MLA for Tyndall Park and I brought together constituents at a Forum on Improving Care and Preventing Tragedies in Manitoba’s Personal Care Homes.
We looked at what is a tragedy in such home. Tragedies include fires - and falls where a hip is broken or a head is injured. Tragedies also include when a family member is not allowed to visit their loved one in the personal care home, or when a person dies in a home unhappy and angry about the quality of care he or she received.
We had four excellent panelists. Connie Newman, Executive Director of the Manitoba Association of Senior’s Centres emphasized the importance of having someone who is an effective advocate for care home residents. Michelle Gawronsky, President of MGEU, discussed staffing levels. The care needs of residents are much greater today than 1986 which I understand was the date of the last review of staffing levels in personal care homes. Dolores Minkus-Hofley, whose husband is in a personal care home, talked of the need to improve staffing and training for personnel in personal care homes. Robert Rose Jr, son of former St Vital MLA Bob Rose spoke of the over-use of anti-psychotic medications for residents like his father.
The Forum brought to light numerous disturbing concerns. There were also many suggestions for improvements. There is a need for a review of staffing levels and training requirements for those working in personal care homes in our province, as was emphasized at the Forum and in a recent MARCHE report.
While some personal care homes are doing a good job, others are falling short. One suggestion for action is to better identify best practices in personal care homes which are doing a good job and to use this to improve personal care homes where there are shortcomings.
Thank you, Merci, Meegwitch
Questions to the Minister of Health
Personal-Care Homes - Restrictions on Visitations
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, one of the sad stories to hit the news in recent days was about families of residents in personal-care homes in Ontario who were being prevented or severely limited in being able to see their loved ones. Similar situations are occurring here in Manitoba, with family members being prevented or severely restricted in being able to see their loved ones in a personal-care home. There's an urgent need to address this.
Will this have to come to a court case as in Ontario, or will the minister take action to make sure that close relatives will be able to visit their loved ones while they are in personal-care homes?
Hon. Cameron Friesen (Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living): The member for River Heights referenced a recent panel that he held and he referenced Connie Newman. That is a name that is familiar to many of us, who is the executive director of the Manitoba association for senior centres.
We thank Connie and her organization for their ongoing endorsement of our government's initiatives to reduce ambulance fees. She made other supportive comments of our government when we recently continued to provide the flu vaccine in personal-care homes at a higher dose to keep residents safe. We thank Connie Newman and her organization for her representations, that she continues to say we're going in the right direction.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a supplementary question.
Need for Improvement of Conditions in Personal Care Homes
Mr. Gerrard: Typically, my question not answered.
Those who have to live in personal-care homes and their families should be able to be sure that the days residents spend there–which may include the last few days of their life–will be happy ones where they can receive good care. It is very sad, as I heard from a daughter of one resident, when the last words of a person who passed away in a personal-care home were about how awful it was to be there.
Currently, conditions in some care–personal-care homes in Manitoba are 'folling' far short of what they should be, as we heard at our recent forum.
What actions will the Minister of Health be taking to immediately improve conditions in Manitoba's personal-care homesand to prevent tragedies from occurring?
Mr. Friesen: The minister–or the member for River Heights mentioned that another panelist he had at his event was Michelle Gawronsky. That is a name that is very familiar to those of us in the Chamber, of course. She is the president of the MGEU, Manitoba government employees union.
Recently we were pleased to see the representation votes take place under Bill 29. Manitoba had over 180 unique collective bargaining agreements, and now with those votes having taken place, while I know MGEU representation did diminish, the real winners are Manitobans with under 40 representative unions now representing labour in the province of Manitoba.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a final supplementary.
Staffing and Training Review
Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, again, no answer.
Michelle Gawronsky did say that there has not been a review of staffing and training in personal-care homes since 1986. The minister should undertake such a review as soon as possible.
Dr. Malcolm Doupe at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy has published a series of indicators of the performance of Winnipeg's personal-care homes. He found some care homes are doing well while others are performing poorly.
The minister should review what well-functioning homes are doing and use this information to improve conditions and prevent tragedies at poorly performing homes.
Will the minister do this?
Mr. Friesen: I remind all members there are measures. There are standards. There are procedures in place in all personal-care homes across Manitoba in order to keep people safe. If the member has specific information that he wants to share, I invite him to bring it forward.
We are proud of the investments that we are making in personal-care homes across Manitoba.