Ontario Canada Jan 19 2020
Private security guards are now monitoring some residents at the John Noble Home, drawing objections from the union representing the home’s personal support workers.
The guards are responsible for aggressive residents in long-term care at the municipal home for the aged on Mount Pleasant Street.
“The John Noble Home is using Pinkerton Security guards to overwatch some residents and we remain firm in our position that this is unacceptable,” said Corey Johnson, spokesperson for SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, which has filed a grievance against the home.
“These guards do not have the required training to deal with residents, including those who could be vulnerable.”
Saying the move puts residents at risk, Johnson said the union will “continue pushing back” until the guards are no longer being used.
The guards are hired in place of PSWs, who are typically assigned to “one-on-one” situations – circumstances where a resident’s behaviour warrants someone watching the person at all times.
A Pinkerton representative did not respond to questions from The Expositor.
John Noble administrator Jennifer Miller said that she cannot address the specifics of the union’s grievance. But she noted that home is permitted to use a “contracted service provider” so that PSWs can remain focused on providing care for all residents.
Due to dementia, some long-term care residents display symptoms such as pacing the floor or rummaging in drawers, said Miller, adding that they also can “strike out, which can be very unpredictable.”
Ministry inspection reports in long-term care homes are often filled with accounts of residents who lash out at other residents and can even cause injuries that require hospital treatment.
“When these behaviours are present, other residents in the home may be at risk,” said Middleton.
If a resident is assessed to require one-on-one monitoring, the Ministry of Long-Term Care will fund an extra worker for that duty.
“The purpose of one-on-one monitoring is to ensure the safety of the resident in need, as well as those around them,” Miller said.
But a John Noble Home PSW, who asked not to be identified, said the guards are unable to actually help the residents they monitor.
“These guards can’t touch them” said the PSW. “They can’t toilet them or change them.”
If guards see inappropriate behaviour by a resident, they draw it to the attention of regular staff.
The PSW said the hiring of the guards may be the result of problems all long-term homes are having in finding staff.
“I understand why they’re short-staffed. PSWs come out of school and find out the work is hard. You never know what shift you’re getting and you’ll never get benefits,” said the PSW.
“We make good money but we’re getting hit, spit on and working with things like MRSA and herpes.”
Miller said the government has recently approved 10 new beds for the John Noble Home that will for a unit, specifically for residents with serious behaviour issue.
“Evidence suggests that innovative design and customized programming can reduce or eliminate the need for one-on-one monitoring,” Miller said.
“We look forward to making this unit available to those in need in our community.”