Speaking up for long term care residents almost cost this woman her home | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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

Dianna Green with her daughter.
Image Credit: Submitted/Dianna Green
July 04, 2020 - 7:00 AM

Dianna Green has spent the last 14 years living in the Joseph Creek Care Village in Cranbrook. She often speaks out for better care for herself and others.

But she says retaliation for those efforts has culminated in recent threats to ship her off to Kelowna, despite the fact that her friends and family are in Cranbrook and she's lived most of her life there.

On May 12, the manager of Joseph Creek – who is no longer working there – walked into her room with the announcement that Green might be sent away.

“She said 'we’re going to send in a request for Tertiary to have you moved,’” Green told iNFOnews.ca. “I said where? She said possibly Kelowna. I started crying. I said no. I can’t leave here. This is my home. My family. My friends. You can’t just pull me out of here because we’re having disagreements and I’m writing to licencing. You can’t do that.”

Tertiary refers to Interior Health’s Tertiary Psychiatric Services and licencing is the Licencing Direct branch that deals with concerns raised over long term care homes fulfilling their licence requirements.

On June 18, Green was sent for an MRI on her frontal lobe. She believes that was ordered by Joseph Creek management in the hopes of showing that her brain functions have deteriorated due to her Multiple Sclerosis so that Joseph Creek can no longer accommodate her medically and can, therefore, ship her elsewhere.

Green is not a typical long term care resident. She’s only 56. but because of her MS, she’s confined to a wheelchair and special equipment is needed to lift her in and out of bed. She also needs serious pain medications.

Sherri Parsons, a long time friend, was able to visit briefly when Green went in for her MRI. She said Green has not changed in the past few months when they haven’t been able to visit because of COVID-19.

“I don’t think it’s a personality change,” Parsons said. “She’s just beside herself at times because she’s frustrated.”

Green has a lot of experience being frustrated, not only with the staffing shortages and all the hardships that brings for her and fellow residents, but for what she sees as retaliation from management for speaking up and the lack of help from outside agencies that are supposed to be there for her.

READ MORE: Fear of retaliation keeping people from speaking about issues in B.C.'s long-term care homes

Green sent iNFOnews.ca dozens of emails between her and health authorities dating back over just the last year.

Some went to Licencing Direct and others were sent to the Patient Quality Care Office, which is where residents and family are supposed to raise concerns about long term care homes. Both are branches of Interior Health.

On July 31, 2019, Green wrote to both to complain about a resident who had not bathed since February and would not let her feces-stained clothes be washed.

“The woman obviously needs psychiatric help but nobody is doing anything for her,” Green wrote. “In the meantime I am living two doors down from her and I’m at the end of my nerves. I wake up to the smell of her and I go to bed with the smell of her. It comes through the vents, down the hallways, it’s lingering on her when she comes out to share meals with everyone. Other residents have complained about the smell, so have the staff. We feel like nobody really cares about her or us.”

The woman "ended up going septic and passed away with it," Green said.

Two days later she wrote to them again saying a care aid was disciplined for helping her with her hair and makeup and other staff were told not to help either. She saw that as clear retaliation.

“I’m a 56-year-old lady who is very busy in the community and looking presentable is important to me,” she wrote. “This has caused me a lot of sadness as getting out is my life and looking like a raggedy person makes me feel awful.”

Following a post on her Facebook page a couple of years ago, Green said her physio treatment was ended.

READ MORE: Issues boiling over at Cranbrook seniors home after resident sexually assaulted despite staff warnings

The email record Green provided is not complete but it does contain many comments back from both Interior Health agencies responding to her complaints. They often wrote that they had talked to management at the home and Green’s complaints were not substantiated.

One example is a Dec. 30, 2019 response from Interior Health to a couple of complaints Green made about a care aid.

The response stated: “JCCV (Joseph Creek Care Village) Director of Care denies receiving any complaint regarding verbal abuse from staff. As part of the PCQO (Patient Quality Care Office) process, please ensure you attempt to resolve your concerns with the care provider directly, prior to contacting the PCQO.”

That, and other indications, show the investigation of Green’s complaints were followed up only to the extent of talking to the facility manager whose word was taken over hers.

“The RCA (registered care aid) who was working at that time, was very abusive in every way imaginable,” Green wrote to iNFOnews.ca. “She is the one who told me four times that I should kill myself.”

Green suggested that investigations of complaints include talking to staff and other residents.

Dianna Green and her grand niece.
Dianna Green and her grand niece.
Image Credit: Submitted/Dianna Green

Of course, much of this comes down to who to believe, Green or management.

iNFOnews.ca talked to a number of Green’s friends and former staff members who all say that she is an honest person who should be believed. Most of her fellow residents are seniors with various levels of dementia so Green feels obliged to speak up on behalf of those who can’t speak for themselves.

There is some indication that things may be getting better for Green.

The Patient Quality Care Office brought in a psychologist to evaluate her.

“Mental Health came by,” she wrote to iNFOnews.ca on June 25. “I am thoroughly tested. My memory, cognition, stress levels, anxiety etc. Thank God I passed with flying colors! Yippee!”

Her MRI also came back showing she's fine mentally.

She also spoke to B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie and followed up by launching a harassment complaint against Joseph Creek.

Mackenzie told iNFOnews.ca that residents of long term care homes have the right to choose where they live and cannot be moved simply because they have disagreements with staff or management.

“She should be asking, ‘what is it about my care needs that can’t be met here?’” Mackenzie said. “The health authority should be asking the care home ‘why don’t you have the ability to care for her because you’re licenced to provide complex care?’”

There should be someone at Interior Health at a manager or director level advocating on Green’s behalf, Mackenzie said. Green said she has not received any such help.

iNFOnews.ca contacted Golden Life Management on June 26, offering them the opportunity to respond to Green’s allegations.

"The personal details of those in our care are confidential and we are bound by strict privacy standards," Landon Elliott, chief marketing officer for Golden life wrote in an email. "That being said, 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. Internally, Golden Life has an amazing team of front line staff who deliver care to our residents and we support them to provide that care in collaboration with the union representing our front-line employees.

"We are committed to a culture of quality and take all concerns, audits, and feedback seriously. 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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