It’s not just COVID making life miserable for long term care residents | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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It’s not just COVID making life miserable for long term care residents

Dianna Green with her daughter.
Image Credit: Submitted/Dianna Green
November 04, 2020 - 6:30 AM

There has been such a focus of late on the declining health of residents isolated in long term care homes because of COVID-19 that it’s easy to lose sight of the trauma for residents that have been living there for years.

Dianna Green is one resident who has been fighting the owners of her Cranbrook care home for many of the 14 years she’s lived there.

She’s finally making some progress after she says she was threatened with being moved to Kelowna but it’s still a battle.

“They’re giving me favours to keep me quiet but problems keep going on,” Green told iNFOnews.ca. “I was told by a politician that they are being watched so closely now, that if the complaints keep up then IHA (Interior Health Authority) is going to take over.”

That politician is MLA Tom Shypitka who would not talk about this specific case for privacy reasons but is well aware of the situation at the Joseph Creek Village following stories by iNFOnews.ca in June and being contacted by Green.

“Senior care facilities have always been the topic of discussion and most recently some local operations have been highlighted with heavy criticism,” he wrote in an email. “This has not gone unnoticed and has been the same kind of criticism I myself have made for the past couple years.

“I am well aware of situations ongoing at our local care facilities and I will continue to push government to make the right choices and to ensure public health, safety and well-being of very much valued citizens.”

Green has Multiple Sclerosis so is one of the most mentally fit residents of the home even though she needs a wheelchair and has other physical health issues. She complained about a sexual assault earlier this year involving another resident that resulted in criminal charges.

READ MOREIssues boiling over at Cranbrook seniors home after resident sexually assaulted despite staff warnings

Following that and her ongoing efforts to speak up for residents who are not able to speak for themselves, the operators threatened to ship her to another facility in Kelowna even though all her friends and family are in Cranbrook.

READ MORE: Speaking up for long term care residents almost cost this woman her home

With the help of Shypitka, numerous formal complaints and the involvement of Interior Health, Green says the operators are trying to resolve issues before she files more complaints with Interior Health’s licencing branch.

That’s tough because they’re chronically understaffed, she says.

“Today our rooms are like furnaces," Green said. “It’s not just my room, it’s all our rooms. Now they’re putting in temperature adjustment things. We’ve been asking for years for that to be done. Now they’re doing it because they know if they don’t then I’m going to call licencing.”

While hot rooms may seem a minor problem in the winter, there are lots of other issues.

“Here we sit now with no baths tonight, night shifts with one nurse working by herself (for 102 patients),” she posted on her Facebook page on Sept. 26. “Basically, it’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Some nights she doesn’t get supper, she says. Laundry goes missing so there are no covers for her wheelchair and she’s short of blankets, she says.

Green says she was told to stop posting to Facebook after asking a question about care assistants being trained to give out oral medications, which she objected to.

Last month, staff did not change her occluded catheter for three days, she says.

“The pain from spasms was intense and constant,” she posted. “Why are you allowing this company to continue operating? They are responsible for caring for a large number of elderly people and the disabled. It’s to our shame that this is permitted to happen. Every day I wake up and wonder what is going to happen today.”

She has filed complaints and Interior Health is responding.

The latest posted report on an Interior Health website deals with a routine investigation conducted Sept. 23. It cited four non-critical and two critical infractions.

Those included a long list of policies and procedures not being followed including no evidence of staff being trained in emergency procedures and the food service manager not having the right qualifications.

In August a complaint was filed and substantiated by Interior Health that “tracking of wounds is inconsistently completed as per the facilities current compliance plan. Self-monitoring appears to be an ongoing issue. Two persons in care identified as requiring daily dressing changes do not have documentary evidence that the dressing changes occurred."

Interior Health has shown that it's willing and able to take over the administration of care homes. Earlier this year the Summerland Seniors Village was put under administrative control by Interior Health – and will remain under that control at least into January – after numerous complaints were substantiated against it.

READ MORE: Inspection reports suggest why Summerland Seniors Village is now being run by Interior Health

Retirement Concepts is the owner of that facility. It’s the largest owner of private long term care homes in B.C., including one each in Kamloops and Williams Lake, and is the subject of an ongoing class action lawsuit.

READ MORE: Owners of three B.C. Interior seniors homes being sued as part of class action lawsuit

Green has been asked to speak to Joseph Creek management to try to resolve problems before she files complaints with Interior Health’s licencing branch.

“They’ve got these weekly meetings lined up where they want me to tell them what problems I’ve been having before I call Interior Health so they can try to fix it,” Green said. “But they’re not fixing it. I said I’ll let you know but I also will tell licencing.”

Joseph Creek is owned by Golden Life Management which originated in Cranbrook. It has 11 homes in the Kootenays, two under construction on Vancouver Island and four in Alberta.

Green says she is going to continue to be vigilant to not only improve life for her fellow residents – most of whom suffer from dementia – but for all long term care residents.

“I know you’re all growing tired from hearing the same old news but when you write letters and make phone calls it really really helps,” Green wrote to her supporters on her Facebook page. “One day it will be you or a loved one that will be in here or another Care home so please write, fight for better care, fight for more healthcare workers.”

Golden Life was contacted and told about the specific concerns Green raised. Chief Operating Officer Julius van Wyk responded in some detail to most, but not all of them, noting he could not speak to the "personal details of our client.”

“Golden Life is committed to a culture of quality safe care and take all concerns, audits, and feedback seriously,” he wrote in an email.

Joseph Creek meets all staffing levels as determined by Interior Health and has contingency plans for staff absentees, he wrote.

A temperature sensor was put in her room and, if a meal is missed, there are other food options available such as a kitchenette fridge, he said.

Laundry is done every day and labelled when someone moves in so, if something is  misplaced, it will be returned.

Medication is administered by “unregulated care providers” only after training and passing a written exam. They do not administer ‘high risk medications,” or make decisions on dosing.

As for social media, van Wyk said everyone is encouraged to go through the appropriate communication process so problems can be addressed immediately and pertinent contact information is posted in the facility.

“We have a strong relationship with Interior Health, Licensing, Physicians, and expert consultants who help us determine our unique client needs and support appropriate care plans made in collaboration with residents and families,” van Wyk wrote. “When a concern is identified our teams are dedicated to finding timely and appropriate solutions and ensuring continuous delivery of high quality of care.”


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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