Interviews with 87 staff at eight long-term care homes (two each in BC, MB, ON, and NS) were used in the study. The research revealed that workers face significant psychological harm from unremediated hazards, employers and regulators don’t “see” the hazards causing the harm very clearly, and workers are largely left to deal with things on their own (which is itself a psychological hazard).
The voices of the study participants are powerful. They clearly note that employer staffing decisions take a significant toll on both the staff and on patient care.
[W]e’re told ‘Suck it up. It’s your job.’ And that’s so frustrating because that’s not my job. It’s not my job to come to work and expect to be punched in the face. You know, it’s not my job to come to work and expect to be hurt because you didn’t staff the building properly so now I can’t take care of my own family. You know what I mean? (CCA, Manitoba)
Okay, well we’re short two CCAs and one LPN and…we as nurses care for two houses, you know, we care for all these people with only three [staff]… . There’s just nobody to help and there’s nobody to cover, right? So you just basically go through a shift hoping you’re going to have a good shift and nothing big happens because if it does, I mean you have to deal with it. But there’s nurses here that go without breaks because you just don’t have the time. A lot of nurses go without breaks and that’s again cause for burnout, right? (LPN Nova Scotia)
[The] ratios are key because every nurse and LPN and care aide wants to give amazing care and that’s why we have so many leaving the profession, right? It’s because the ethical and moral distress that you cannot do your job the way you’re supposed to be doing your job and you’re just trying to just make it through the day. So if there was funding put into having, you know, the appropriate ratios then yeah, of course it would work. It would be amazing wouldn’t it? (RN British Columbia)As the Points West Living lockout in Cold Lake moves past 150 days, it is important to reflect that a significant issue is the workers’ demand for mandatory staffing levels such that the employer can’t run short-staffed if someone calls in sick or goes on vacation.
-- Bob Barnetson