Nursing Home Blog

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Inspection Frequencies to Decrease, Not Increase

Posted on Thu, February 16, 2017 at 5:35 pm


We are frequently and pleasantly surprised by the positive feedback that we receive at Nursing Home Ratings.  Members of the public appreciate our contributor's first hand accounts, insights, and evaluations of their and their loved ones' experiences in Canada's long-term care homes. Most find the governments often opaque and confusing inspection reports (available by clicking here: Ontario's Ministry Reports on Long-Term Care Homes) to be of little value in deciding on a nursing home, so many are turning to our network of reviews and ratings to stay informed.  

As seemlingly impractical and useless as these inspections are to the public, we were nevertheless discouraged to learn of Ontario's plan to scale back it's full annual inspections for the vast majority of homes to a lighter version that will use less inspectors and less rigorous criteria per inspection.

There is no question that Ministry inspections tie up considerable human capital.  I was intimately involved in the process as a nursing home administrator and well remember the time and resources that are required to complete a full government inspection.  Nevertheless, public oversight in poorly performing homes is an essential component of ensuring that residents are protected and receiving the care which they rightly deserve.  The move to scale back full annual inspection from every year, to once every three years, makes sense for some homes that pass routinely with flying colours, but is unquestionably worrisome for higher-risk homes that routinely turn up deficiencies.  These are the very homes in which the Ministry needs to pour their resources into rigorous, annual inspections.

To briefly summarize the new proposal, the two years in between full inspections will receive a lighter inspection that requires, for example, only 2 inspectors for five days, rather than 3 or 4 for up to two weeks.  In the lighter version, 20 resident interviews rather than usual 40 will be conducted, and other areas such as staffing levels, security, quality improvement, and response procedures for aggressive residents, will not be reviewed.  For homes that have proven track records of care and oversight, the lighter inspection will still offer plenty of rigour.  But not so with homes that have developed structural problems in their delivery of care.

In the end, whether you agree with the new policy of lighter inspections or not, we again are reminded of the impetus for our website:  to inform our readers and the general public that the best way to ensure the highest quality of front-line care is to make regular visits a part of your daily or weekly routine.  It is true that no one, not even the most well-meaning long-term care home employee, cares about your mother or father like you.  






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