By Shelly Banks, The Star Phoenix – December 8th, 2014
I am a continuing care assistant (CCA) in rural Saskatchewan. I have been listening with interest to the recent public discourse around staffing levels in long-term care. I, too, wish to add my voice to the demand for safe staffing levels because right now they are insufficient and for so many reasons.
This is a sector where the physical and mental aspects of our work have grown immensely for the last number of years. Our residents require a great deal of hands-on care; we need adequate time to spend with each of them in order to provide compassionate, quality care and we need a full team of care providers to do this.
Unfortunately, our health regions employ far too many casual CCAs and this proliferation of casual jobs does not secure a committed workforce. As an employer, you actually have to provide guaranteed hours of work and a schedule.
In 2014, there are too few people wanting to become CCAs. The cost of obtaining higher education and the time committed to achieving it are obstacles. The workload is tremendous and I am no gambler, but I guarantee you that most long-term care facilities in this province experience staff shortages at least once every two days.
So we are continuously required to work in an environment without adequate resources. Would you want to become a CCA knowing these conditions?
I agree our seniors deserve better – and I know there are examples where employers cannot recruit to fill part-time or full-time positions. Some of this has to do with the redesign of the care model, which means the care provider must make the meals, feed the residents, do the cleaning and laundry, provide the personal care and all that goes with it. A CCA cannot possibly manage all of these jobs when there are only three members of the team to manage the care needs of 20 residents. It simply is not safe. We really do need adequate resources in longterm care and that includes safe staffing levels.
Shelly Banks Milden Banks is vice-president of the SEIU-West
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