- April 16, 2017
- Posted by: Sage Shield Safety Consultants
- Category: Global Safety News
The National Alliance for Safety and Health in Healthcare welcomes the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health’s release of an operational plan on budget day that focuses in part on improving home and long-term care for seniors and enhancing safety for healthcare workers.
Bolstered by the federal government’s investment of $ 190.3 million for home care included in Saskatchewan’s 10-year health funding agreement, efforts to achieve a culture of safety, including continued focus on the implementation of the Safety Management System across all healthcare service lines, could significantly improve seniors’ care in this province.
Much work needs to be done to achieve the provincial government’s goal of no patients or staff being harmed by 2020, and a co-ordinated national strategy is critical to addressing health human resources challenges on the frontline of elder care across the country.
Today, as we need the caregivers looking after our seniors more than ever, they are being injured on the job at unsustainable levels.
Many Canadians are caring for our aging family members at home. When you combine the demands of looking after an elderly and ill relative with those of paid work and raising children, it is no wonder that burnout rates are increasing in some provinces.
Should unpaid family caregivers step away from this role because of distress, more pressure will be placed on healthcare workers in the long-term care sector.
Already, professional nurses and care aides are facing a growing workload and some of the highest workplace injury rates in the country. Saskatchewan has had significant reductions in workplace incidents of injury, however, injuries in the healthcare sector resulted in over 70,000 workdays lost in 2016. Clearly there is more work to be done.
Along with regular incidents of overexertion, workplace violence is one of the top causes of injury for seniors’ care providers.
A study of violence in seniors’ care found that 90 per cent of Canadian frontline care workers experienced physical violence from residents or their relatives and 43 per cent reported physical violence on a daily basis.
With rates of dementia rising, caregivers are facing constant threats to their mobility, physical and mental health.
In addition to having a negative impact on the life of healthcare workers and the quality of seniors’ care, these high rates of preventable workplace injuries are costing the health system millions and contributing to a growing caregiver shortage.
In 2015, Canada’s long-term care sector lost an estimated 650,000 workdays due to injuries — resulting in over $ 96 million in costs to a system in desperate need of resources.
As an organization representing Canada’s healthcare sector, including seniors’ care providers across the country, the National Alliance for Safety and Health in Healthcare is ready to collaborate with key stakeholders to better protect healthcare workers, improve the quality of elder care and help offset rising healthcare costs associated with our aging society.
By joining forces with key stakeholders to focus new funding where it can have the biggest impact in the sector, we can make significant improvements in long-term care in Saskatchewan and across the country that will ensure care aides can spend more time with seniors than recovering from injuries.
In addition to increasing care hours and creating thousands of new healthcare jobs, a new national strategy could include targeted investments in much-needed medical and safety equipment, ongoing training for caregivers to improve the quality of dementia care and prevent workplace injuries.
Combined, these efforts would help attract and retain a high-quality workforce and reduce costs related to workplace injury claims.
Ensuring quality safe care for our residents requires a safe workforce. Keeping safety top of mind translates into a focus on supporting our caregivers so they can continue to fulfill their vital role in our society and our healthcare system.
Sandra Cripps is chief executive director of the Saskatchewan Association of Safe Workplaces in Health (SASWH).
SASWH is a member of the National Alliance for Safety and Health in Healthcare.