Better approaches to long term care
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that we have lost focus on our collective responsibility to Long Term Care and the residents who reside in these homes. The issues of low-wage Personal Support Workers who must move from home to home just to make a living wage, inadequate care in too many homes, and other health a safety issues existed long before COVID-19 began. However, now more than ever and within a pandemic environment, there is a pressing need to change the system so that residents in LTC homes are safe, comfortable, and live a dignified life.
It was for this reason that I was compelled to bring a report to the Community and Protective Services Committee recommending that the City make it a priority to improve the care in the City's four Long Term Care Homes by adopting an innovative model of care for people living with dementia. Without a transformative culture change, no amount of additional staff, home inspections or more Personal Protective Equipment will remedy the failings in the system.
These new innovative models of care are relationship-based where residents, staff and families feel part of a community and are treated with dignity and respect. Residents know and feel like they are living in a warm, caring environment which looks and feels like home. Staff deliver person-centered care which enables them to get to know who their residents and families are - and what their life was like before they entered long-term care. It means schedules and routines are flexible to match the resident’s preferences and needs. It means residents are involved in many meaningful activities according to their abilities and what brings them joy.
There are several innovative models of care that have been implemented in LTC homes in other countries with a few here Ontario such as Malton Village in Peel, Henley House in St. Catharine’s, and most recently Henley Place Home in London. Eight other long-term care homes in Ontario are in the process of implementing innovative models of care including two in Renfrew County and one here in Ottawa at the Glebe Centre.
The Glebe Centre has begun implementing The Butterfly Model of care and are committed to putting the well-being of residents first and to provide the type of care and services that connect people to where they are in their life journey.
The first step was to pilot one of their home areas into a more 'home like' place that reflects the people who live there. They painted the walls bright colours and every resident has their own personalized front door. They created stimulating wall murals, some interactive, so that there would be things of interest to look at and engage with. They created nooks and spaces throughout the home area so residents could have quiet spots to sit and be engaged with an activity or just watch the goings on around them. They filled the house with the stuff of life, things that people could be active with, books, magazines, puzzles, things to sort and rummage through, music and art and couches to sit in next to a friend.
They have reported that key indicators for adopting this model includes decreasing pain levels, decreasing the use of psychotropic and sedative medications, seeing an increase in resident wellness and quality of life through meaningful engagement, a reduction in resident distress, a reduction in falls, reduced staff turnover, and higher staff engagement scores.
It is time for a shift in our thinking about how we address the systemic problems in LTC homes that have been exposed by the current pandemic and the tragic loss of so many lives of long-term care residents in Ottawa and Ontario. I am committed to ensuring that our city-operated homes adopt these models of care to ensure a life of dignity and meaning for people living with dementia.