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New Board Oversees Further Protections To Keep Ontario's Seniors Safe

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 02/01/13 -- The Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) announces that further protections now in force under the Retirement Homes Act, 2010 (Act) will provide additional safety to Ontario's seniors.

The sections of the Act in force as of January 1, 2013 represent important changes for Ontario's retirement home sector. For the first time there are provincial standards for care services, such as drug administration, skin and wound care, feeding and assistance with dressing; safety standards, including food preparation and pest control and safety plans which include emergency plans and infection prevention and control, among others.

Mary Beth Valentine, RHRA CEO and Registrar, stated the RHRA has been working with the sector to provide education about these new regulations. "Through outreach sessions, online materials and a webinar, we have been able to provide support to homes. The goal is to work together so retirement homes understand their obligations and the standard levels of care in retirement home accommodation for Ontario's seniors."

Phasing of the Act

The government has introduced the Act in phases to allow retirement homes to adjust to new regulatory requirements. Prior to the Act, retirement homes in Ontario were not regulated.

Some parts of the Act have been in force since 2010 to allow for the establishment and implementation of the regulatory authority. Additional parts of the Act came into force in May 2011 to protect retirement home residents from harm or risk of harm before the Act was in full force. Phasing in of the remainder of the Act and corresponding regulations began in April 2012, and will continue until January 1, 2014. The new sections now in force represent Phase 3 (January 1, 2013) which include:

--  Standards now in place relating to the care services in the Act (e.g.
    administration of a drug, skin and wound care, assistance with dressing,
    feeding and ambulation) 
--  Safety standards required (e.g. temperature control, pest control and
    food preparation) 
--  Licensees must assess new residents and develop a plan of care based on
    the assessment, and provide information about alternatives to living in
    the retirement home if an assessment indicates a resident meets certain
    criteria set out in the regulations 
--  Safety plans required (emergency and infection control) and staff to be
    trained on plans

New Board of Directors

The RHRA is governed by a Board of Directors, which transitioned from an interim five-member Board to a permanent nine-member Board in December 2012. Four members were appointed by the government and five members were elected through a nomination process by the interim Board.

"The Board represents a mix of retirement home industry representatives, consumers, business representatives and government organizations," stated Board Chair Mary Catherine Lindberg. "I am confident the mix of skills and expertise around the table will serve the Authority well as we introduce and implement the next phase of regulations and continue to protect and enhance the lives of retirement home residents in Ontario."

The RHRA Board of Directors includes:

--  Mary Catherine Lindberg, Chair 
--  Mathilde Francoise Gravelle Bazinet 
--  Aileen Carroll 
--  Millie Christie 
--  Christopher Jodhan 
--  Bob Kallonen 
--  Trevor Lee 
--  Carla Peppler 
--  John Rossiter

Board member biographies are available on www.rhra.ca.

About the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority

The Act is administered and enforced by the RHRA - a not-for-profit organization, established by government. The RHRA is responsible for: licensing retirement homes, educating consumers and licensees about the Act, maintaining a Public Register of licensed homes and responding to reports of harm or risk of harm to retirement home residents in Ontario.

Valentine stresses the Authority's regulatory powers relate strictly to retirement homes that meet the Act's definition - a term often misused or confused with long-term care homes, which are regulated under another Act and receive funding. "The Retirement Homes Act sets out a specific definition of a retirement home. They are occupied by those primarily 65 years of age or older and by at least six persons who are not related to the operator of the home. Retirement homes also provide at least two care services to residents (for example, meals and assistance with dressing). The public is encouraged to view the RHRA's Public Register online at www.rhra.ca to determine the licence status of a home."

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