OMNI supportive of recommendations to improve LTC resident safety made in Wettlaufer inquiry

Justice Eileen Gillese’s report demonstrates a strong understanding of issues homes face, says OMNI president and CEO Patrick McCarthy

OMNI Health Care’s president and CEO says the organization is supporting recommendations made in Justice Eileen Gillese’s final report in the Public Inquiry into the Safety and Security of Residents in the Long-Term Care Homes System and is pleased that Gillese demonstrated a strong understanding of issues faced in the sector around keeping residents safe.

Patrick McCarthy also says OMNI has worked to stay ahead of the curve in creating safe environments for its more than 1,400 residents to live through programs the organization has created, including its quality focus initiative and award-winning diabetes protocol.

Gillese’s inquiry began in August 2017, two months after Elizabeth Wettlaufer, a former long-term care home nurse in southwestern Ontario, was sentenced to eight concurrent life sentences for killing eight residents in her care with insulin.

Wettlaufer, who made headlines around the world after confessing to the murders, never worked at any of OMNI’s 18 long-term care homes.

In her report, Gillese created 91 recommendations aimed at preventing and deterring long-term care nursing staff from harming residents. Recommendations in her report include:

– Increasing staffing levels
– Limiting long-term care homes from using nurses from temp agencies
– Improving training for front-line staff
– Funding long-term care homes to improve methodologies for how medications are stored and tracked
– Allowing homes to have more say in how to spend funding for services

“(Gillese) really demonstrated a great knowledge of the complexity of the issues and how vulnerabilities can exist throughout the system and how everybody who plays a role (in long-term care) can take steps to improve it,” McCarthy says.

McCarthy says the report is in line with the direction OMNI has been taking for many years to improve resident safety, particularly with respect to the diabetes protocol, which in part focuses on the management of insulin administration. Processes in the protocol related to the management of diabetes are already aimed at improving resident safety and outcomes.

“The report really supports the things we are already implementing,” McCarthy says.

Since 2012, OMNI has been focusing on its quality initiative which strives to create the best possible experiences in its homes for residents through continuous improvement.

The result has been staff members being conscientious of trends shown in quality indicators, which relate to every aspect of resident care and allow homes to measure outcomes.

McCarthy says OMNI is also pleased with the funding flexibility recommendations Gillese made in her report including recommendations that long-term care homes be allowed more latitude to spend funding to hire pharmacists or pharmacy technicians.

OMNI is also happy with the recommendation to limit the allowance of homes hiring nurses from temporary employment agencies. By law, there needs to be at least one RN on duty at all times in a long-term care home, but if there are no RNs available, homes must resort to using agencies rather than RPNs, which brings in nurses who may not be familiar with the home or the residents.

McCarthy says OMNI is hopeful the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care considers the recommendations made in the report because of the favourable impact they pose to resident safety and security.

“We really do hope that they take seriously the recommendations around the role of the ministry working with long-term care homes and in funding the level of staff required to provide safe environments,” he says.