Ontario Families and Caregivers Welcome New Registry

TORONTO, May 19, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Families and caregivers from across Ontario welcomed the creation of a new online registry that will protect seniors and improve access to quality home care in the province at a time when demand is growing.

Ontario is launching a registry that will help raise standards and provide better access to high-quality personal support and respite care for families who look after loved ones with chronic conditions like Alzheimer's disease and Multiple Sclerosis.

The new system will also help keep vulnerable seniors safe, and for the first time register and track up to 100,000 Personal Support Workers (PSWs) in the province who provide care to the elderly at home and in long-term care facilities.

"The creation of a registry of Personal Support Workers will provide peace of mind to seniors and family caregivers, and increase access to quality care," said Sharleen Stewart, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents more than 50,000 frontline healthcare workers in Ontario.

"This is an important first step in strengthening home care in Ontario, and lays the foundation for enhanced training for caregivers," said Ms. Stewart.

Personal Support Workers applauded the creation of a registry as an important step in providing long overdue recognition for their profession, which is playing an increasingly important role in caring for an aging population.

"I feel the role Personal Support Workers play in the health system is finally being recognized in this province," said Yvonne Greaves, who has been providing care at home to the frail, sick, and dying in the Toronto area for more than two decades.

Demand for PSWs is forecast to double by 2031, as baby boomers retire and demand for home care grows. More than 80 per cent of people in Ontario would prefer to receive care at home, according to a recent survey.

"The creation of a provincial registry formally incorporating best practices in the training and education of Ontario's Personal Support Workers is an exciting and much-needed health initiative," says David Harvey, Chief Public Policy and Program Initiatives Officer, Alzheimer Society of Ontario.

Improved training of PSWs and greater support for family caregivers has been the cornerstone of the Alzheimer Society's call for an Ontario-wide dementia action plan.

"We've been working closely with our colleagues in Government, so today's announcement is welcome news," Mr. Harvey adds.

"It's a win-win, improving training and support of PSWs and influencing better outcomes for families and people living with dementia."

The registry will help the province identify and address shortages of PSWs, and will allow people with disabilities and families to access flexible, self-directed care from qualified healthcare workers.

Family caregivers from Sudbury, Ottawa, Brampton, Mississauga, Toronto, and Niagara - as well as PSWs from across Ontario - applauded the creation of the registry at a ceremony at Queen's Park addressed by Minister of Health & Long-Term Care Deb Matthews.

The province is expected to require nursing homes and home care providers that receive public funding to verify their employees have been added to the registry by the end of the year. Health organizations will also be required to report incidents of abuse.

The registry is expected to invite PSWs to register in the fall and to open to family caregives by the spring.