POLITICS

New solutions needed to address chronic problems in senior care: NDP

12/08/2014 05:34 EST | Updated 02/07/2015 05:59 EST
REGINA - A Saskatchewan woman who says her mother's death due to an allergic reaction was preventable is calling for systemic changes to long-term care.

Tammy Skilliter said her 65-year-old mother had a known allergy to an antibiotic that was given to her shortly before her death.

"Our family was in shock," she said Monday, the last day of the fall legislative session.

The case was the latest brought forward by the Opposition NDP. Leader Cam Broten has been pressing the Saskatchewan Party government for weeks to bring in minimum standards of care for seniors in long-term facilities.

Skilliter said her mother, Fern Chingos, died from anaphylaxis after taking ciprofloxacin in April 2013. She said the nursing staff failed to check the form that would have notified them of the allergy before administering the medication.

Chingos was a resident at a Parkridge Centre Special Care Home in Saskatoon.

Skilliter said she wants to prevent others from going through the pain and grief that has devastated her family.

"She had foam coming out of her mouth when I went to go see her," she said crying. "If maybe somebody would have actually followed policy or procedure and checked her (every) half hour, she might be alive."

Skilliter said her mother was particularly vulnerable because she had suffered a stroke, losing the ability to speak.

"Within the two years prior to her passing away, there were staffing issues, arguing in the hallway," she said. "One time she was left in a soiled (diaper) for two hours."

Corey Miller, spokesman for Saskatoon Health Region, said he can't speak about the details of the case. He added that a critical incident review was conducted after Chingos's death, and recommendations from the report were implemented.

"When it comes to medications, we have made changes to ensure that the patients and residents are getting the right medications and doses," he said, adding that all new medication orders are reviewed by pharmacists to check for allergies and interactions with other drugs.

He said other recommendations related to training staff.

Broten has said long-term care facilities are plagued by staff shortages.

"I continue to see a dismissive approach from government, a failure to recognize the enormity of the shortcomings in the system and a failure to properly address and fix the shortcomings," he said.

"In the throne speech there was no mention of new solutions to address the seniors care crisis."

Health Minister Dustin Duncan said there are challenges facing seniors homes, but understaffing isn't systemic.

"This is why we're putting a big focus on our processes within the health system because we know that errors do take place in the system, that they can cost lives and cause injuries," he said.

Last week, the Opposition brought forward the case of a woman who allegedly went three months without a bath at another Saskatoon care facility, Samaritan Place.

Broten also raised the case of Art Healey, a 76-year-old man who twice left a Rosetown care facility unnoticed, once when it was -11 C. Healey's daughter said he was outside for about 30 minutes without winter clothing before someone found him.

The legislature also heard about 87-year-old Jessie Sellwood, who fell while being moved to her bed and suffered a cut to her back. A coroner's report said the fall at the Extendicare Sunset nursing home in Regina likely hastened her death.

An ombudsman investigation has been launched into the death of 74-year-old Margaret Warholm, who had been a resident at Santa Maria Senior Citizens Home in Regina.

Medical records show Warholm reported losing 30 pounds in a year and had compression fractures in her vertebrae. She also had a large bedsore on her back that her family believes could have been prevented.

One of ombudsman Mary McFadyen's goals will be to determine if there are systemic problems affecting long-term care.