POLITICS

Care home died after eating laundry detergent pods: Saskatchewan NDP

04/01/2015 04:20 EDT | Updated 06/01/2015 05:59 EDT
REGINA - Saskatchewan's Opposition leader is calling for improvements to seniors care after he says a man at a Moose Jaw facility died from eating laundry detergent pods.

NDP Leader Cam Broten raised the issue in the legislature Wednesday. Broten said the man wandered out of his room at Providence Place.

"That is unbelievable," Broten told reporters. "It's so sad to think of a senior confused, not knowing what's going on, and being left to wander to get into such a dangerous situation."

Bert Linklater, spokesman for the Five Hills Health Region, said the man's death was investigated and the region made an action plan to prevent a similar situation in the future.

"It's a tragic event," he said.

"I'll say this ... there is no issue of neglect, no issue of the person being unsupervised or improperly supervised, none of those things are evident in this incident."

Linklater said the man was suffering from dementia.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan said the death was listed as a critical incident.

"It's one of the few facilities that does have washer and dryer in the units for the residents if they want to do their own laundry," he said.

Broten said he was made aware of the incident by Eunice Blanchard, who worked as a care aide for 34 years before retiring last year from Providence Place.

Blanchard said she believes conditions at the home have deteriorated in the last two years.

"Those elderly people deserve way more than what they're getting," she said.

"They have hardly any front-line staff to look after them and that's who washes them, gets them up, feeds them, bathes them, turns them.

"It makes me sick."

Duncan said staffing levels have been improving.

Broten said there is a "widespread crisis" in seniors care in Saskatchewan.

On Monday, the NDP raised the concerns of care aide Peter Bowden, who works at Oliver Lodge in Saskatoon.

Bowden has said residents are at risk of skin infections because they are left in soiled diapers and bedding for up to 10 hours.

He said at times on his night shift he is left alone to look after 32 residents and more staff are required to provide better care.

Ombudsman Mary McFadyen began an investigation in November following the death and alleged mistreatment of a senior at a Regina care home.

Margaret Warholm lived at Santa Maria Senior Citizens Home until her death in October 2013.

Medical records show Warholm lost almost 14 kilograms in a year and had compression fractures in her vertebrae. She also had a large bed sore on her back that her family believes could have been prevented.

McFadyen said in January that her office had received about 35 complaints related to care in long-term care facilities since her investigation started.

She said the complaints are about poor quality of care, low staff-to-resident ratios, a lack of accountability and poor communication.