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Seniors, advocates, slam new law that could force patients to long term care homes

Seniors and advocates say they are terrified and livid over Ontario’s move to allow hospitals to send patients into long-term care homes not of their choosing.
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A long-term care home.

Seniors and advocates say they are terrified and livid over Ontario’s move to allow hospitals to send patients into long-term care homes not of their choosing.

Seniors advocate Patricia Spindel, 74, says she lives in fear of being sent to a hospital and then off to a home far from her family.

She compared it to the periods of the COVID-19 pandemic when families were banned from long-term care homes for months at a time.

On Thursday, Aug. 18, the province introduced legislation that would allow hospital patients awaiting a bed to be transferred to a “temporary” home while they await space in their preferred home.

Lawyer Jane Meadus with the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly says this is a violation of basic rights.

“What this legislation does is take away the fundamental right to consent to health care, a right that has been upheld by the Supreme Court,” said Meadus. “People are going to be pressured to make bad decisions and the chance of them getting out of the home they do not want to be in and into a home of their choice in their lifetime is frankly low.”

“Forcing patients into homes that they are afraid to go to, that are substandard homes, potentially far away from their families, causes early death and suffering. It is morally repugnant,” said Dr. Vivian Stamatopoulos, long-term care advocate and professor at UOIT.

The Minister of Long-Term Care did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday, Aug. 19. 

As CityNews first reported on Wednesday, Aug. 17, if a doctor says a patient no longer needs a hospital bed and should be in long-term care, that patient can be moved to an available bed, even if it is further away from where they want to be.

Long-term care minister Paul Calandra said on Thursday a patient can say no to a transfer outside of their area and no one will be forced to move.

“We are not going to be forcing anyone out of a home,” he said. “But the changes do allow us to continue that conversation, to explain to someone in a hospital why their needs could be met in a long-term care home.”

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