Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sons, Don't Let Your Mothers Grow Old to Ont. Retirement Homes

Especially the Expensive Ones!

As a maintenance non union manager/supervisor/coordinator in a number of high-end retirement homes and a nursing home I've seen it all in the big city, Toronto.

Ontario Long Term Health Care can give me a call for advice anytime they want.
Lawyers may request me as an expert witness to the shenanigans common in retirement homes anytime they want.

I've been in a retirement home that charged upwards of  $7,000 a month. Yes, you read twelfth of a year.

Here's the problem with some of these big chains operating in big cities at least.

They may charge 7-12 k a month for a nice looking building and two sales agents (where most of the building's earnings go) but the ones that our actually caring for your parent(s) our minimum wage

E.Ds and Managers are paid a lot for 9-4 or 9-3 Monday to Friday jobs, but what do they do for your parent(s) when things go wrong in a system conducive and welcoming things to go wrong except damage control for the owners who in turn are often damage controlling to the stock holders on publicly owned commodities.

Once such place I worked at prided themselves of a homey atmosphere which worked out fine for financial savings i.e., no cameras allowed, sound security systems that went for months in disrepair because the American head office looked after major repairs, wherein the local police force often brought back high paying dementia residents from various places around town, including one who managed to find a way to the police station itself.

Last year two residents (on occasions not far apart) only went as far as outside rear doors. Their biggest mistake because they almost froze to death was being that close to the people who simply didn't care, only on the wrong side of the door.

Who was punished or told to pull up their socks over these incidents well, no one because you can't make a big deal about something you don't want getting out certainly not the resident worker or his/hers immediate supervisor.

American corporate, finally clued in..even so it took months still to repair the system and still no security (for safety) cameras allowed.

Now the closest workers to the residents are either practically, or definitely, minimum waged union labour, especially after they paid their dues. The unions are sometimes different, but the American based SIEU ('service') plays heavily in many nursing homes and retirement homes in Ontario.

They are  composed of approx. 98% immigrants, many with thick accents, some without a hard grasp of the English language for a few reasons I believe. It is what it is, and not suggesting their is anything wrong with being born of a different nationality, but the majority of these workers are of Filipino extraction, Jamaican extraction, Mediterranean or Somali extraction. Union thugs are union thugs no matter their color or extraction.

Long term local residents can't afford to work for minimum wage in big cities, unless they are one of a number of the same family doing the same. Residents of European extraction quit having large families long ago, leading to these kind of demographics.

Of note..PSWs working in retirement homes are not paid the same as those working in government facilities or nursing homes and certainly at none of the facilities, I've worked at.

The other cause being the recent large influx of immigrants who migrated to the big cities no matter where they were intended to settle. Who can blame them? They don't make the policies. They take full advantage of policies they were intended to.

International unions, and the health care care service sector would not bode well in the best of times. Bring in stakeholders such as far off shareholders and why wouldn't it be logical that one is just begging trouble on.

By the way, many retirement homes are just that, long term health care (nursing home facilities) in varying degrees because the real money is in the assisted or full medical service. Expensive retirement homes, (that pay workers little) charge extra money for every little add on that would be included in a government run nursing home.

I can only assume that the Ministry of Health allowed for these retirement home medical services to lighten the load of the government looking after your parents.

But, as they found out free enterprise is good, but cannot be unchecked as seen in their recent pronouncements to bring retirement homes directly under their policies and regulations because of numerous complaints against the retirement 'industry'. Of course, this has been a political football with no action to date under the McGuinty government through election transitions.

The biggest danger of allowing unions vs corporate stock exchange listed companies vs personal care for mom and dad or strangers to all of them is this, and I've seen it and experienced it first hand.

Corporate pooh-bahs do not want bottom lines that show dividends to shareholders. Shareholders can be you, and I owning just a few stocks in a retirement home in Brazil

We want our money to increase, certainly  not stagnate and certainly not depreciate.
Logically, human nature being what it is, and despite our fancy-full personal moral elevations, what are shareholders in Ontario going to care a fig how unions are getting along with or treating some strangers in Brazil?

Well their not...same as American stockholder relations with us. They don't want petty grievances which can dig heavily into company profits. The same thing as the Auto companies never wanted. The unions ran the auto industry and the auto industry had to be contracted out to advert unreasonable demands.

The end result being, union individual workers, empowered to the excess behavioural- wise, and union workers who should obviously be fired protected short of involuntary man-slaughter.

And what do they have to lose anyway at the same wages fast food restaurants would pay their window servers. 

Recommendations are obvious and logical.

1) Do not allow any union in the retirement industry (now actually medical service industry) the right to strike

2) Have independent immediate third party input as to whether a union grievance is considered frivolous or not and dismissed against a discipline. The Ministry of Labour is long overdo in it's special economy killing prejudice to all union causes and against non union labor.

3) I'm private sector's greatest cheer leader, especially when government is so vulnerable to political influences and winds, however, maybe it's time to re-look at publicly listed stocks in the service industry for our kids and our parents. Here, is a clear case of seniors being abused from both ends that is completely able to be changed for the better.

Unrelated, Being pro-family I am also of the firm belief that the family home should not be the main stay of the investment sector making the prices of homes unreachable and bankrupting of  many families. The only remedy for this, however is to limit house purchases to owner living there, or for rentals to be un-flip-pable once established as a rental. Drastic measures, yet drastic situations.  Socialism and un-fettered free enterprise both have their clear disadvantages in consideration of the family which is under enough attack as it is.

I have lots of examples of what I'm writing about that I simply couldn't list here without taking on book-like epic proportion.   

Paul Gordon

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