Catholic health association calls for provincial standards for special care homes

The focus of Catholic health care is on the "care" -- with love and compassion. (File photo)

News release from Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan (CHAS)

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the struggle of Special Care Homes right across Canada. The Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan (CHAS) supports its member special care homes in asking the provincial government for standards that would elevate the safety and care for the people living in special care homes.

“Special care homes in Saskatchewan have been chronically under-resourced and under- staffed for decades,” said CHAS Executive Director, Blake Sittler. “We are entrusted with the care of vulnerable residents who require specialized care to meet their day to day needs. These are our grandparents, parents, spouses, children and they deserve so much more.”

In April 2013, the Government of Saskatchewan produced a document entitled “Program Guidelines for Special Care Homes” (revised 2016). The document outlines policies on what elements should be contained in a special care home. Unfortunately, the guidelines do not identify the standards or a quantifiable measure to meet these elements, Sittler noted.

In the federal Throne Speech delivered Sept. 23, 2020, a commitment to work with provinces and territories to set new national standards for long-term care for seniors was made. CHAS and Catholic health care facilities are ready to assist in developing those standards, according to Sittler.

“I’ve seen the care and compassion that the staff in our care homes put into their work for the residents but at some point in time the only way to increase the quality of care is to increase the resources to meet the growing and complex needs of the folks who call these respective places home.”

“We need measurable standards for care and appropriate resources to ensure these homes have what they need to care for the residents,” Sittler continued.

“The needs of the people in special care homes have radically changed over the last 30 years,” he explained. “The needs are more complex but the baseline resources have remained the same for decades.”

“Some of our homes have been offering care for Saskatchewan residents for over 70 years,” Sittler noted. “The affiliate special care homes have a history in this province that gives CHAS an obligation to advocate for more and better care for our residents and more support for the staff delivering that care.”

“COVID is definitely an issue that is in the forefront at this time,” saids Sittler. “But the issues of under-resourcing and under-staffing have existed for years. This pandemic and an upcoming provincial election have given us a brief opportunity to highlight these issues again in the hope that the government will articulate long-overdue standards.”

“We all love someone in a special care home,” Sittler concluded. “What I hope people will do is think about them and then call their MLA and ask them what their plan is to create standards of care with measurable outcomes and a defined resource base to meet the needs of the vulnerable people who live in our Special Care Homes.”