05/15/2013 05:52 EDT | Updated 07/15/2013 05:12 EDT

Saskatchewan Seniors In Nursing Homes Deserves More Baths: NDP

REGINA - The Opposition is urging the Saskatchewan government to ensure seniors living in nursing homes get at least two baths a week.

NDP Leader Cam Broten told the legislature Wednesday that some seniors are missing weekly baths, largely because of a lack of staff at care homes.

"To me, it's a common sense approach that a senior deserves more than one bath a week, especially if they're confined to a bed and that's what our elders, that's what our grandparents deserve," Broten said after question period.

"If it was my grandparent in long-term care, then I would want more than one proper bath per week for my grandma."

The debate comes after Alberta changed its bathing standards for all continuing-care residents to a minimum of two baths a week.

Ontario also has rules that say long-term care home residents should be bathed at least twice a week by the method of his or her choice and more frequently as determined by the resident's hygiene requirements — unless contraindicated by a medical condition. Bathing includes tub baths, showers, and full body sponge baths.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan said the current minimum in Saskatchewan is one bath a week.

"We know that sometimes that's not the case though, sometimes it will be longer than a week but that may depend in some cases on staffing, but as well just on the medical needs (of the senior). So if there's recently a surgery...they may not do a full bath in a tub, but they'll typically still make sure that the sponge bath happens," said Duncan.

Alberta's minimum of two baths a week includes tubs, sponge baths and showers.

Duncan says Saskatchewan will look at what Alberta has done as the province reviews long-term care homes and nothing is off the table.

However, Duncan says in many cases, Saskatchewan seniors are also getting sponge baths on a daily basis. That may put Saskatchewan on par with the rules in Alberta, he suggested.

"If it does include once a week in a bathtub and then a sponge bath, well I would say that residents in Saskatchewan are getting that more likely than not in most cases."

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