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Guest Post: Bringing Culture Change to Ontario’s Long-term Care Home System

July 30, 2020

Bringing Culture Change to Ontario’s Long-term Care Home System

Guest post submission by Kathy Wright,V.P.,CARP Ottawa

couple sitting side by side near panel radiator

As both Minister Fullerton and Premier Ford have stated on many occasions, Ontario’s Long-term Care Home System is broken and needs to change.  It is time to bring transformative culture change to this system. (Source: CTV News)

The tragic loss of life in long-term care homes due to COVID-19 has exposed many of the problems that have plagued Ontario’s Long-term Care Home system for many years.

Many strategies have been tried over the past 35 years or more to repair the system, including stronger policies and more regulations, investments in staff, and support from specialists.  However, it is evident that these have been insufficient to appropriately address the inherent weaknesses in the current system.

CARP Ottawa and several other like-minded organizations in Ontario have recommended a transformative culture change for Ontario’s Long-term Care Home system as the most effective means of improving the quality of life and care of residents and of dealing with the inherent weaknesses exposed by the current crisis.

There have been a number of innovative models that have embraced this culture change in the U.S., Europe, Australia and recently in Ontario.  Examples of these are the Eden Alternative, Green House Project, Butterfly Homes and Hogewey Villages.

The common elements of these models that have embraced culture change have been:

  • Using a relationship-based approach to care where resident, staff and families feel part of a community
  • Setting up small home-like environments
  • Providing more hours of direct care for residents
  • Employing full-time well-paid staff who are trained in empathy and culture change
  • Recognizing families and caregivers as integral members of the team
  • Engaging volunteers who are trained in empathy and culture change

The common benefits of these models include decreased use of medications, decreased number of aggressive incidents, decreased visits to hospitals, reduced food waste, and reduced staff sick time all while increasing positive interactions with staff, families and residents. 

More details on these existing, innovative models can be found at this link:

There is a growing awareness of the pressing need for significant and sustainable reform in Ontario’s Long-term Care Home system. 

If you would like more details on how you can help to bring about this transformative culture change, email us at


Kathy Wright

V.P., CARP Ottawa