11/08/2013 04:28 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 10:53 EST

No input from frontline staff to Saskatchewan seniors care report: advocate

REGINA - A seniors care advocate says a 300-page report the provincial government recently released on long-term care homes barely scratches the surface.

Earlier this year, Saskatchewan's health minister asked CEOs from the province's 12 regional health authorities to tour nursing homes and compile their observations.

Carrie Klassen attended one of the meetings at Sunset Extendicare in Regina where her mother was living.

She says 75 clients and their relatives showed up to talk with the CEO from the Regina-Qu'Appelle Health Region.

But there wasn't a single frontline worker.

Klassen suggests staff who care for seniors on a daily basis could provide valuable insight into problems and challenges they face.

“I think the yearly CEO visits are good,” Klassen said at the legislature this week. “But the people that need to be talked to are the frontline staff. The care aides are the ones who look after my mother.”

Health Minister Dustin Duncan says the point of the tours was to focus on seniors and their families.

“I don't think it would be up to me as the minister of health to indicate to a CEO that they need to talk to their staff. I would hope that our CEOs and our senior leaders are talking to their staff on an ongoing basis,” Duncan said.

Klassen suggested CEOs should have been asked specifically to talk to workers.

“We posed the question to the region, ‘Are you going to talk to the frontline staff?’ And the answer we got back was, ‘Well, it wasn’t mandated that we speak to the frontline staff,” she said.

The minister's office said CEOs did spend time with frontline workers when they were observing the wards first-hand.

But that’s not enough for Klassen.

“What we're saying and then what the report is saying is conflicting. “It's like when you build a house and you want to talk about your floor tile. You're going to talk to the guy who's laying the floor.”

The government says it's planning a two-day session with staff, families, residents and health region managers in December. The goal is to come up with a long-term plan for seniors care.