Patient ombudsman announced by Ontario government


Process already in place for complaints and concerns in long-term care homes

Monday, March 10, 2014 — Deron Hamel

TORONTO – OMNI Health Care is supportive of a section of accountability legislation announced at Queen’s Park March 6.

The province is proposing the establishment of a patient ombudsman to resolve complaints lodged against Ontario’s long-term care homes, hospitals and 14 Community Care Access Centres.

While long-term care homes have long had processes in place for reporting concerns and complaints to Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care inspectors, the new office will extend to some other parts of the health-care system that have not been subject to the same degree of inspection and oversight.

OMNI president and CEO Patrick McCarthy wants residents and family members to be clear that if they need to lodge a complaint against a home, there are processes that remain in place, whether communicating the concern directly to the home, through residents’ council or family council, OMNI head office, or directly to the ministry.

In each of OMNI’s 18 long-term care homes, residents and family members have access to information posted in common areas outlining toll-free telephone and mail contact information for the purpose of lodging complaints.

Additionally, there is existing protection in OMNI homes and under the Ontario Long-Term Care Homes Act for whistleblowers, which McCarthy says OMNI continues to support as an accountability measure in the sector.

If Premier Kathleen Wynne’s idea for a proposed patient ombudsman’s office is created, McCarthy says he hopes that it will broaden Long Term Care’s existing complaint processes, addressing resident and family concerns relating to system issues and transitions involving home care and hospital — an important element in a more integrated health-care system.

An office with oversight of community and acute-care providers, he adds, would be well placed to look at the broad issues affecting the greater health-care system.

“So long as the office has some power in looking at system and quality issues that are beyond the purview of providers alone, then that’s a positive development for residents and patients,” McCarthy says.

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