New strategy is needed to address shortage of continuing care workers
(Burnaby, BC) – May 16, 2017: According to a new SafeCare BC report, a shortage of home care and support workers has a negative impact on workplace health and safety. Over 87% of home care workers, who responded to a recent SafeCare BC survey say their organization is short-staffed, and almost three-quarters believe they will not have an adequate supply of workers over the next three to five years. The positions most often identified as having a chronic shortage are occupations pertaining to direct client care: home support workers and care aides. While this shortage of workers impacts every region of the province, it is particularly pressing in the Interior and on Vancouver Island.
When talk of addressing staffing shortages comes up, the instinct is to always focus on recruiting more workers. But this misses a critical fact that there are many highly skilled and experienced workers who are unavailable to work due to workplace injuries. The injury rate in the home care and support sector is twice the provincial average of all workers, and in long term care, the rate is four times higher than the provincial average.
“For the sake of our seniors and those who care for them, we need to change the way we are addressing staffing shortages. Our human resources strategies have failed to identify workplace injuries as a key factor in staff retention,” says Jennifer Lyle, executive director, SafeCare BC. “It would be like a sports team having to bench a third of their best players because of injury.”
While it may not be realistic to aim for an injury rate of zero, even reducing the injury rate by half in both the home care and support and long term care sectors would result in just over 160 full time positions among nursing staff and health care aides. Chronic staffing shortages have a direct impact on the quality of care provided. In addition, staffing shortages negatively impact health care professionals, with higher staff turnover, higher rates of staff burnout. “This issue is even more critical with the recent Canadian Census report that for the first time in history Canada’s seniors outnumber children,” says Lyle. “We need to find a different way, and it begins with reducing workplace injuries.”
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Labour Shortages and Workplace Health & Safety: Home Care and Support Survey Report
About SafeCare BC
SafeCare BC is the health and safety association for the more than 29,000 continuing care workers in BC. Through SafeCare BC, the continuing care sector has invested over $2.7 million since 2013 in reducing workplace injuries. We strive to be the industry leader in advancing injury prevention and safety training for long-term care and home care and support workers.