Winnipeg Free Press: Letter to the Editor Re: Who’s caring for care aides?

Aug 22, 2018

The following letter to the editor from MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky was published today in the Winnipeg Free Press:

Put care first

Re: Who’s caring for care aides? (Aug. 14)

As the union that represents thousands of health-care aides in Manitoba, we were not surprised by the results of a recent study that showed the risks many care aides face.

For years, we’ve been saying the same thing: despite a strong belief in their professional abilities and satisfaction in their work, health-care aides, "who do the bulk of the front-line work in nursing homes," are at a high risk for burnout. And this impacts all of us.

The fact is, Manitobans are getting older. More and more of us are entering hospitals and personal care homes (PCHs), and our care needs are getting more complex as we age. As the study showed, more than 60 per cent of us in PCHs are dealing with some form of dementia.

As a result, health-care aides are increasingly being asked to provide more complicated and stressful care, while at the same time, Regional Health Authorities are reducing staff coverage and shortening "task times." This means rushing through meals, baths and other physical and emotional supports.

Of course, health-care aides are burning out — which is not just a problem for them, but for all of us. Because the study also showed, not surprisingly, those who are burned out report providing lower-quality care.

And while it spoke specifically about burnout in care homes, we know burnout is a significant, wide-ranging problem in many other areas of health care as well, including community home care.

Manitobans deserve better.

It’s time to make sure our PCHs are adequately staffed and that workers have the time and energy to properly care for Manitobans. It’s time to put care, not budgets, first.

Michelle Gawronsky

MGEU president

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