Whether they work in a CHSLD, in an intermediate resource, in a private residence or in home care, Quebec patient attendants perform work that is comparable, in its complexity, concludes a new analysis by a researcher from Laval University. However, the training requirements and the remuneration vary greatly from place to place.
Regardless of their place of practice, beneficiary attendants “play an essential role in the network” and perform tasks of comparable burdens, notes Philippe Voyer, professor and researcher at the faculty of nursing at Laval University.
At the request of the Association of Intermediate Accommodation Resources of Quebec (ARIHQ), Mr. Voyer analyzed all the functions performed by patient attendants (PABs) working in CHSLDs, intermediate resources, homes and private residences for seniors in Quebec. If the ARIHQ commissioned the study, Mr. Voyer assures that he was completely free in his analysis. He also decided himself not only to study the role of PABs in intermediate resources, but in all settings.
For his study, Mr. Voyer interviewed various stakeholders, including patient attendants. He notes that in CHSLDs, they provide 80% to 90% of patient care. An immense contribution, especially as the cases are very complex. In intermediate resources and private seniors’ residences, the attendants are often alone. They have to give the drugs.
There is a weight. A huge mental load […]. Everywhere, agents must manage complex situations on a daily basis.
Philippe Voyer, professor and researcher at the Faculty of Nursing at Laval University
At the Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux (FSSS-CSN), the conclusions of the study are called into question by stressing that the work of PABs in CHSLDs is “very heavy”, as the pandemic has cruelly demonstrated.
But Mr. Voyer cites the example of an intermediary resource worker working alone with eight residents suffering from severe mental disorders. “The challenges are different, but big everywhere,” he says. The researcher also emphasizes having observed that “the environments are no longer watertight”, and that we now find very complex clienteles even outside CHSLDs.
Differences in training and remuneration
During the pandemic, the government paid an hourly premium of $ 4 to beneficiary attendants working in certain sectors of the health network, including CHSLDs. Those working in intermediate resources also obtained this bonus.
Despite everything, intermediary resources are struggling to recruit agents, says ARIHQ director general Johanne Pratte. Because in intermediate resources, the salary of a beneficiary attendant fluctuates between $ 14 and $ 18 per hour, premiums included, while in CHSLDs, we are talking about $ 26 per hour, she says. “In this context, it is extremely difficult for us to recruit. We have a lot of candidates who went to CHSLDs, ”pleads Mme Pratte.
She also denounces the differences in training requirements. While CHSLDs often require a PAB training diploma, intermediate resources cannot afford this luxury, she says. Mr. Voyer’s study noted these differences and concluded that it is “difficult to justify that the training requirements vary according to the environment”.
Quebec has 5,000 intermediate resources that welcome elderly clients, but also people with disabilities or mental disorders. Funding for these resources is entirely public. Negotiations are underway between Quebec and the ARIHQ for the renewal of their agreement, which expired in March. And the ARIHQ hopes to recognize the inequity of treatment of which it considers that the agents working in intermediate resources are victims. “From the moment you recognize the value of the work of patient attendants, the place where they work should not matter”, pleads Mme Pratte.