ONA Supports Wettlaufer Inquiry

Convicted killer ex-nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer leaves the Woodstock courthouse, June 1, 2017. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News.)

The Ontario Nurses’ Association is supporting a public inquiry into long-term care in Ontario, but is also cautioning against over-supervising nurses.

The call comes after former nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer was sentenced to life in prison for killing eight residents of long-term care homes in Woodstock and London.

“Media attention resulting from the tragic murders of eight vulnerable long-term care residents presents the opportunity to examine, as well, the systemic issues that impact the care and safety of our frail seniors,” ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said in a statement issued Thursday. “A public inquiry into long-term care must include an examination of much broader issues, such as resident-on-resident violence and compliance with long-term care legislation and regulation.”

Haslam-Stroud admits there’s room for improvement in long-term care in Ontario, but not at the cost of frustrated nurses leaving the profession or the province, and scaring off new ones. She says more oversight is good, but going overboard is not.

“The nurses are already under very stringent guidelines, quality assurance measures and oversight generally.  So, it’ll be interesting to see if there’s any further restrictions, etc placed on our practice,” says Haslam-Stroud.

Haslam-Stroud supports looking at how long-term care home operators look after their elderly residents and reviewing the College of Nurses of Ontario.

But she says says nurses are already under some very strict guidelines and oversight. They also face tough working conditions.

“You’re working 24-7 and under situations where there could be violence, under-staffing, racism, and safety issues,” Haslam-Stroud says.

She says nurses understand they’re under a microscope and should know how to handle it.

“I think new nurses who are coming into the profession already understand the significant impact that these kind of negative and tragic situations are going to have on their oversight as well,” Haslam-Stroud says.