01/24/2013 01:54 EST | Updated 03/26/2013 05:12 EDT

Summerland Seniors Home Death Brings Changes


SUMMERLAND, B.C. - Health officials have ordered changes at a Summerland seniors home where a 91-year-old man died after being left alone for days in his room, including an increase in staffing levels and a decrease in the use of restraints.

The Interior Health Authority said Summerland Seniors Village will remain under third-party oversight until those improvements are in place.

Three reviews have been conducted at the facility since Alfredo Bonaldi died Dec. 7, after a family member found him in bed in his assisted living room suffering from several ailments.

Bonaldi had not appeared for meals in the seniors' home for several days but no staff checked on him.

"These reviews have identified common areas of concern regarding staffing levels, education and training, and leadership," said a statement issued Wednesday by Interior Health.

Reviews by the Health Ministry and the health authority found several areas of concern.

Community health workers who were not certified to deliver medication were doing so, notes one report, and there was a lack of compliance on reporting serious incidents.

Staffing levels were noted as a concern, in particular inspectors found evidence of a lack of professional oversight by registered or licensed practical nurses of the assisted living beds funded by the province.

An Interior Health quality review dated Jan. 4, 2013, said the operator must realign staffing levels to meet its current contract obligations.

The health authority has also recommended Summerland Seniors Village enhance procedures for fall prevention and the use of less restraint. The home operator has been given a deadline to address the issues.

Interior Health said it will continue to monitor Retirement Concepts, which operates 15 seniors' homes in B.C., from Williams Lake to Vancouver Island, as well as one facility in Montreal.

A spokeswoman for the health authority said there are no extraordinary reviews taking place on the other two facilities operated by Retirement Concepts within the Interior Health jurisdiction. Care homes undergo annual review.

The BC Coroner's Service announced last month it is also investigating Bonaldi's death.

In August, Bonaldi's wife, who suffered from dementia, fell and broke her femur in an incident in the bathtub. She died 15 days later.

An investigation into that case cleared the staff of wrongdoing.

Summerland Seniors Village came under scrutiny several years ago, when three staff members resigned after explicit photos of residents were taken with cellphones and circulated. Later that year, a care aide worker was dismissed for rough treatment of residents.

In 2007, an employee pleaded guilty to stealing and using residents' credit cards.

— By Dene Moore in Vancouver

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