NDP MPP introduces bill in Ontario to keep couples together in long-term care

Senior couple embracing

Waterloo New Democrat MPP Catherine Fife introduced a private member’s bill, called ‘Til Death do us Part’, which seeks to keep couples together in long-term care.

The bill would give a patient “the right, upon admission, to have accommodations made available for their partner in their home”.

“This is a situation many couples across Canada face. One spouse qualifies for a long-term care bed but the other does not, and they are separated or both partners require care but are put in different homes,” says Marissa Lennox, Chief Policy Officer at CARP. “Our own members have called us to tell us that, after 60 or 70 years, they’re being separated and it’s heartbreaking.”

When it comes to residents in long-term care, nearly 90% have some form of cognitive impairment, including dementia. “Predictability and continuity are critically important to the quality of life for persons with dementia,” adds Lennox. “For example, if someone becomes agitated, having a family member close by who knows them and is able to calm them down is vital.”

Fife is also making a case for increased funding for long-term care beds (it costs $842/day for a hospital bed vs $126/day in long-term care), and says she’d like to see more “care campuses” that offer different levels of care to seniors in one facility.

The bill has passed second reading and is going to committee, having received support from the governing Conservatives.

There are currently over 34,000 people on the wait-list for long-term care.