Facing a growing wave of dementia so violent it’s led to 12 homicides in two years, Ontario nursing homes are pleading with the province to pay for a key tool now available to fewer than one per cent of them.
Just six of 626 long-term care homes — none in the London region — have been given funding to bring in a team of experts to find ways to reduce violence so prevalent it’s led to warning from Ontario Provincial Police, the chief coroner’s office, the homes themselves and families who fear their loved ones in homes will be the next victims.
“We’re really concerned (about violence),” said Candace Chartier, chief executive of the Ontario Long Term Care Association, whose board includes representatives from the heavy hitters in the field such as Extendicare and Revera.
The association is lobbying the Ontario government for $60 million over three years so expert teams can be placed in more homes. Called behavioural support teams, they employ a number of strategies that the association says have proven effective:
- Create stations to engage residents to reduce restlessness that can lead to aggressive outbursts. Examples include placing a dresser with a mirror, hats, bracelets and scarves in a lounge mostly used by women.
- Reduce stress for individual residents through careful observation and interviews with family.
Nursing homes that host teams reap benefits: Within a year, one facility reduced antipsychotic medications by almost 50 per cent, and residents showed much less agitation, restlessness and conflict, the association says.
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