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Summerland retirement home under investigation: senior near death

December 04, 2012 - 12:04 PM

"We're sick and tired of hearing they're working on this. They (policies) should be in place before they go into business."

A Summerland retirement home is being investigated and monitored after a series of complaints of neglect, most recently from one family whose mother suffered for weeks in pain before dying and their father was found near death last week.
Family discovered 91-year-old Alfredo Bonaldi in his room at Summerland Seniors Village suffering from kidney failure Sunday. He is now on life support at Penticton Regional Hospital. They later discovered he was missing from meal time for as long as three days and staff didn't follow up on absence reports to check on him. This after Bonaldi's wife, Maria Louisa, died there three months earlier under troubling circumstances.
The family didn't go public with their mom's death, but after suffering yet again with the same home, they want to see changes.
"Really? You don't know (where he is and) you don't pick up a phone?" says daughter Edi Inglis. "He has three daughters here in town and they have spouses. They have home numbers and cells. If that doesn't work, go down and figure out why he's not at dinner."
Retirement Concepts, the company that operates the home, accepts responsibility for not checking on Mr. Bonaldi, saying it was a breakdown in staff communication. 
President and CEO Azim Jamal says an internal investigation found that Bonaldi was reported absent but the message either wasn't received or wasn't acted upon by care staff. In response, they have formalized the communication process. Salmonella poisoning from the facility was all but ruled out as a cause of illness, as speculated by some news agencies.
Bonaldi was largely independent in the home so his absence wouldn't have created the same level of concern as other residents getting constant care, the company has said. Bonaldi also had an emergency response button in his suite, but never used it. Both of those factors will be under internal review but Retirement Concepts is now being investigated by both the Ministry of Health and Interior Health, which has placed a monitor on site after not just these but other recent complaints.
"We don't have to do this very often," says spokesperson Karen Bloemink. "We can't decide what our role in this will be until our investigation is complete. It's not an Interior Health facility."
Bonaldi's family, meanwhile, says they have heard all this before.
"They say they're working on policy and procedure. We're sick and tired of hearing they're working on this. They (policies) should be in place before they go into business," Inglis says.
Her family went through similar circumstances when their mother suffered weeks of pain before dying three months ago. She was in residential care with advanced Alzheimers. It was revealed that Louisa Bonaldi fell from a chair during a bath roughly one month before she died. The incident and several reports of pain were reported to doctors who ignored them and simply prescribed pain killers.
Almost a week later, doctors finally got x-rays and saw a broken femur.
The company says Interior Health reviewed the incident and found that staff were doing as they were told by the doctor and changes were made to bathing procedures.
Interior Health owns around 50 per cent of facilities in the region. Those facilities are operated, funded and managed by Interior Health. The other half is contracted out. Bloemink says Interior Health remains responsible for clinic services and management of dollars and making sure those facilities are delivering what they are required to deliver. Summerland is contracted out and Interior Health funds the facility to deliver care. 
Summerland Seniors Village is owned by Retirement Concepts who, according to their website, own two other facilities in the interior, 10 in the lower mainland, five on Vancouver Island with another in Quebec. They have no other facilities in development at this time.

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