POLITICS

Regina daughter says care at mom's seniors home dangerously inadequate

04/09/2013 06:24 EDT | Updated 06/09/2013 05:12 EDT
REGINA - A Regina woman says the level of care at a seniors home is dangerously inadequate and says there have been cases of residents falling or being left on toilets for hours.

Carrie Klassen's 72-year-old mother is in the Sunset Care Home after suffering a brain aneurysm in 2010.

Klassen says she had to quit her job to help care for her mom. The frustrated daughter says she's at the seniors home for several hours every day and has noticed that care is falling short.

"From what I've seen, it's really heart-breaking," Klassen said Tuesday at the legislature.

"The staffing level is way too low for the number of residents in there. People falling ... people not getting bathed, and whatnot, so I feel that a light really needed to be shed on this."

Klassen says, for instance, there was one week when her mom never got a bath because the care aide was by herself in the evening.

"She was one care aide for 19 residents. Can you imagine looking after 19 people? And most of the care is really heavy, it's like level four, lifts two persons, people being left on the toilets for hours, they push their call bell and nobody comes," she said.

Klassen brought her concerns to the legislature after writing a letter last November to Health Minister Dustin Duncan. She wants to see more done.

Klassen believes the biggest issue is staffing.

She says there's a nine-to-one patient-to-staff ratio for the day shift, which has gone unchanged since the 1970s and is worse than Alberta and Manitoba.

"Everybody's helpless. It's like we have nowhere else to put our family members and you worry at night. That's why I go every day. I think well, 'what's going to happen if I don't go?'," she said.

"And the poor staff, it's just way too heavy (a workload), way too heavy for the whole place."

Duncan says there is a system in place for health regions to determine staffing at long-term care facilities and this "might be an opportunity for us to review whether or not that system is leading to appropriate staffing levels."

But he could not say if the ratio quoted by Klassen is accurate and wanted to confirm it.

The health minister says the province is taking Klassen's concerns seriously.

"I think like anybody hearing these types of stories, I would think of my own family that would be in that situation and I wouldn't be happy with it," said Duncan.

"It's going to take some time, but we have introduced some steps in the last number of years, including this budget year, to try to improve some of those situations. But we know that there is more work to be done," the minister added.

Duncan admitted he would not want his mother in a similar situation.

"No, absolutely not. I think it wouldn't be a situation that me or my family would be satisfied (with). Absolutely not, it wouldn't be something that would sit well with me."