The Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 was introduced as Bill 140 on October 3, 2006 by Health Minister George Smitherman. The Act received Royal Assent on June 4, 2007. When it comes into force, the Act will repeal and replace the Nursing Homes Act, the Homes for the Aged and Rest Homes Act, and the Charitable Institutions Act, and will make amendments to a number of other acts, including the Long Term Care Act, 1994, which will be renamed the Home Care and Community Services Act, 1994.
The legislation is extensive, consisting of over 200 separate sections. In addition to consolidating several pieces of legislation into one, the Bill will introduce a number of significant rights and responsibilities to the long-term care home system in Ontario, including:
- expansion of the Residents’ Bill of Rights
- requirement for a written Plan of Care for each resident
- requirement for a written policy to minimize restraint of residents
- affirmation of homes’ common law duty to restrain or confine a person when immediate action is necessary to prevent serious bodily harm to the resident or to others
- requirement that at least one Registered Nurse be on duty and on site 24/7
- requirement for mandatory reporting of improper conduct to the Ministry of Health (the “Ministry”)
- whistle-blowing protection for all persons who disclose information or give evidence in a proceeding or inquest
The Act also imposes a new scheme for Ministry licensing, enforcement and compliance, including:
- granting of fixed term licenses of 25 years or less which may be revoked before the end of the term
- requirement that the Ministry immediately visit a home where there is information of serious harm or risk of harm to a resident, or information of retaliation or threats of retaliation against a person who has provided information
- requirement that homes have unannounced annual inspections
- a new graduated system of sanctions, which ranges from written notification to revocation of licence, and includes mandatory assisted management and financial sanctions
Furthermore, the Act sets out detailed requirements for the admission of individuals to secure units within a long-term care home.
We recommend that all health care institutions which provide care covered by the Act review the legislation carefully to ensure compliance by the time it is declared in force.
We have been advised by the Ministry that the Act will be proclaimed in force when the supporting regulations have been drafted.
The Ministry is working toward public consultation on the draft regulations in the Spring of 2009.