COVID-19 Update March 30, 2020
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COVID-19 Update March 30, 2020

What does the Emergency Order issued by the Ontario Government mean for long-term care homes?

The following information is a summary of a letter released on March 30, 2020 by The Family Councils of Ontario with support of AdvantAge Ontario, the Ontario Long Term Care Association, Ontario Long Term Care Clinicians and the Ontario Association of Residents Councils.

On March 27, the Ontario government issued an unprecedented Emergency Order that will help long-term care homes to take the steps they need to provide care to their residents and support for their staff during the pandemic. The order means that homes and their staff have the flexibility to prioritize caring for residents over routine administrative requirements, which can be quite time-consuming. The order empowers staff, with appropriate supervision, to focus their time on care, while prioritizing only the documentation necessary to ensure that care is delivered safely and in response to a resident’s changing needs.

The Emergency Order allows long-term care homes to empower their regulated health professionals to work to their full scope of practice, beyond what is allowed under the current long-term care legislation. Under the order, registered practical nurses (RPNs) can fill roles ordinarily filled by a registered nurse (RN) if an RN is not available, within their professional capacity. There is also flexibility to bring in a new “support aide” role to take on tasks such as helping residents visit with families through technology, delivering snacks and helping to keep the residents’ rooms clean and tidy. This “support aide” role does not do any clinical care-related tasks; instead, these additional people free up nurses and personal support workers to concentrate on providing care that only they are trained to provide. These additional staff also provide benefits to the existing hard-working team, including the time to rest between shifts and helping to create a clean work environment.

The flexibility of the Emergency Order is absolutely vital in empowering homes and their qualified and dedicated staff to manage under unprecedented pressure and staff shortages. The Government of Ontario is working hard to provide the protective equipment, supplies, and other supports that homes need for residents and staff to be safe and supported.

The full letter can be accessed at the Family Councils Ontario website.