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Home care

Manitoba announces $40 million for home care

WINNIPEG – Health Minister Theresa Oswald has announced the province will invest more than $40 million to implement a comprehensive strategy to improve the quality of care in Manitoba’s personal-care homes.

The funding will be used to hire 250 nurses, 100 personal healthcare aides and 50 allied healthcare professionals in order to increase the direct hours of care, strengthen the work environment for staff and provide dementia education to staff and families.

It will also fund the expanded use of standardized assessment software to improve individual residents’ care and to monitor the quality of personal-care homes.

“Many of our loved ones, mothers, fathers and grandparents live in personal-care homes. Their well-being is essential and so is ensuring their families have the confidence of knowing their loved ones are receiving the best care possible,” said Oswald. “By increasing direct-care nursing hours and increasing the number of healthcare workers in personal-care homes, everyone will benefit.”

Over the next four years, the province will be implementing several new initiatives, including hiring 400 additional staff consisting of 250 registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses and licensed practical nurses, 100 healthcare aides and 50 allied healthcare workers such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists and clinical dieticians.

The plan also includes a vigorous recruitment strategy including:

• developing a return-of-service grant for nurses and healthcare aides in all Manitoba personal-care homes;

• promoting employment and developing targeted initiatives to attract nurses to work in personal-care homes (PCHs).

“Manitoba’s PCH nurses are extremely well-qualified, experienced and dedicated,” said Réal Cloutier, vice-president of long-term care with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. “This announcement will help us keep them here in Manitoba and attract others from outside the province in what we know can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the profession: caring for and working with seniors, bringing dignity to care in this stage of life.”

Additional investments will focus on strengthening the working environment for personal-care home staff including:

• increasing current staffing levels to standardize the level of care across the province and ensure 3.6 hours of direct care is available per resident every day from registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, licensed practical nurses and healthcare aides;

• improving staff and resident safety through a safe resident handling program including education and equipment;

• expanding the implementation of internationally developed standardized assessment software to improve individual residents’ care and monitor quality in personal-care homes;

• increasing the number of unannounced follow-up visits to personal-care facilities;

• strengthening orientation of all new staff;

• providing funding for education about Alzheimer’s and other related dementias for all personal-care home staff.

The minister of healthy living said these important initiatives will increase the quality of life for residents living in personal-care homes and healthcare professionals in Manitoba.

“Ensuring a safe and healthy environment for seniors is always a key priority,” said Kerri Irvin-Ross, who is also minister responsible for seniors. “This welcome investment will help us ensure that quality care and service for seniors continues to be available in Manitoba personal-care homes.”

“We are very pleased that Manitoba Health is placing a priority on dementia care education in long-term care facilities to ensure that staff in personal-care homes have additional support to enhance skills in resident assessment, intervention options and care planning,” said Norma J. Kirkby, program director of the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba. “The government’s support for increased dementia care education will be welcomed by families of personal-care home residents as well.”

The province works with regional health authorities to make sure personal-care homes meet provincial standards and provide a safe, welcoming and secure facility for residents.

“This announcement is welcome news for both staff and residents of personal-care homes across the province,” said Betty MacKenzie, vice-president, community and long-term care for South Eastman Health/Santé Sud-Est Inc. “Personal-care services are a critically important part of the health care we offer and these initiatives will ensure our dedicated staff can continue to deliver the care our residents need in these facilities.”

The announcement builds on other investments in long-term care in Manitoba including:

• launching a new provincial strategy to develop community-living supports that allow seniors to preserve their dignity, independence and health, and live out their years in their own communities;

• investing more than $21 million to expand community housing options for seniors in rural and northern areas of the province; and

• the constructing several new personal-care homes including a $9.7-million personal-care home in The Pas, the $14.5-million River Park Gardens personal-care home in Winnipeg, $9 million to build a 35-bed personal-care home in Thompson and a $5.5-million expansion of Foyer Valade in Winnipeg.