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Blog Archive

Fairness by Design and Long-term Care Placement

This past fall, the More Beds, Better Care Act, 2022 came into effect.

For hospital patients who have been deemed “alternate level of care” and are waiting for long-term care placement, the act allows placement coordinators to carry out certain steps of the long-term placement process without patients’ consent. For example, it allows placement coordinators to select long-term care homes and share the patient’s application and health information with the homes.

While the act helps move patients who no longer need hospital care into long-term care homes, freeing up much-needed hospital beds, it also makes some significant changes to the long-term care placement process.

It’s important to recognize that moving from home or hospital into a long-term care home is a significant transition for many seniors and their families.

Patient Ombudsman sees many complaints related to hospital discharge and care transitions, with patients and caregivers frequently reporting concerns about poor communication, inconsistent information, and pressure to rush important decisions.

Several of our past annual reports have highlighted these kinds of complaints to try to shine a light on the hospital discharge process and the importance of clear communication during the long-term care placement process. Both stories show how important it is to ensure the long-term care placement process is fair and includes patients and caregivers.

One way health care organizations can better ensure decisions around long-term care placement are made in a fair manner is to incorporate fairness into their processes and review their decision-making through a fairness lens. The concept of using fairness standards when creating policies and reviewing your decisions at the outset is “fairness by design.”

Patient Ombudsman has developed a resource to help hospitals and Home and Community Care Support Service organizations evaluate the fairness of how they implement their long-term care placement processes. In addition to the main resource, we have also developed a one-page checklist that highlights the main questions to keep top of mind.

By keeping the patient’s needs in mind, health care organizations can help make the long-term care placement process as smooth as possible.

What is the Patient Ombudsman?

What happens when you or someone you love has a bad experience in a hospital, long-term care home, or with home care?

We’re often at our most vulnerable when we’re seeking health care, and a negative experience can leave you feeling frustrated or hopeless, especially if you’ve complained and feel like nothing improved.

If you’ve tried resolving your concern with the health organization directly and feel you aren’t getting anywhere, we can help.


We’re here to help

Patient Ombudsman is an independent, impartial office established by the provincial government to receive, respond to and help resolve complaints from patients or caregivers about their care experiences with public hospitals, long-term care homes, and home and community care.

Patient Ombudsman is not a patient advocacy organization. We work with both sides – patients/caregivers and health care organizations – to find a fair resolution.


What do we mean by fair?

Before coming to Patient Ombudsman, you need to try to have your complaint addressed by the organization that you were dealing with. If you aren’t satisfied with the outcome, that’s where we come in. When we’re working to resolve a complaint, we use a set of principles that look at what was decided, how was it decided, and how people were treated. We often ask questions about how the health organisation came to its decision, and whether policies and procedures were properly followed.


How can we help?

Every complaint is different, and so are the possible resolutions.

A resolution could be an apology from the health organization, it could be a commitment to change a policy or process, or it could be fixing an issue to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

If your complaint is about treatment decisions made by a health care provider (such as a nurse or doctor), or about an organization that is outside of our jurisdiction (such as a retirement home or walk-in clinic) we can help direct you to the right organization that deals with those concerns.

In certain situations, Patient Ombudsman can also carry out investigations and make recommendations to health sector organizations based on the findings of the investigation.

Together, we can help make change in our health care system to ensure others have more positive health care experiences.

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