A widely-held assumption is that all residents of Long-term Care (LTC) homes are frail, elderly and in need of sweeping protections as determined by government, policy-makers and LTC home management. The reality, however, is that residents of LTC homes comprise a diverse demographic and have a wide range of needs, interests and concerns. And across the spectrum of needs, residents have a strong desire to participate in key decision-making processes. Instead, they are often excluded.
To help address the diversity of needs and interests, resident populations in each home are represented by provincially mandated Residents’ Councils. Each home has a Council (made up of residents who are interested and capable of participating) that convenes monthly and is tasked with collecting the feedback of residents, which ultimately is supposed to inform LTC home policy and management. However, there are many potential barriers to these Councils performing effectively and meaningfully.
This is where the Ontario Association of Residents’ Councils (OARC) comes in. The OARC supports local Residents’ Councils to communicate and perform with more impact, and also works to amplify the voices and interests of LTC residents at provincial policy-making tables.
Two of our guests, Gale and Devora, each live in a Long-term Care home in Ontario and are vocal advocates for giving residents a more meaningful voice in the development and application of policies that affect them and their co-residents. Gale and Devora lead their own local Residents’ Councils and are active members within the OARC. Our third guest, Dee Tripp, is the Executive Director of the OARC.
In this episode, we discuss the realities of living in Long-term Care from residents’ perspectives, and the impact of living with policies and restrictions they may not have had a say in making. We also talk about what needs to change in order for residents’ voices to become better integrated into LTC policy-making.
This series is supported by the Public Engagement in Health Policy project, which promotes research, critical reflection and dialogue about engagement issues that have a health and health policy focus. Learn more about this Future of Canada project at engagementinhealthpolicy.ca
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