01/22/2015 03:59 EST | Updated 03/24/2015 05:59 EDT

Government is ignoring seniors care crisis across Saskatchewan: NDP

REGINA - Saskatchewan's Opposition suggests little has changed at seniors homes since reports of alleged neglect surfaced in November.

NDP health critic Danielle Chartier said Thursday that staff shortages are contributing to poor care in homes.

"This government is failing to make changes to guarantee safe and dignified care in Saskatchewan," she said in a statement.

She pointed to Santa Maria Citizens Home in Regina, which came under fire when employees were suspended after assault allegations led police to conduct a criminal investigation.

In a separate case, the ombudsman is investigating the death of a 74-year-old resident, whose family said she was neglected to the point of becoming emaciated.

Medical records show Margaret 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.

Chartier said nothing seems to have changed at Santa Maria. The NDP brought forward the case of 75-year-old Sheila Hohne as the latest example of alleged neglect.

Mary Hohne said her mother was admitted to hospital on the weekend for dehydration and a urinary tract infection. She said she believes her mother never fully recovered after a virus she caught in December. Staff didn't take the time to ensure she was drinking enough fluids, the daughter said.

"All I know is my mom is dying, she's on a compassionate care order, and I expect to bury her very soon," Hohne said. "And it's because the system is failing these people.

"The workers are doing the best they can with the hands they have, but it's not good enough."

Hohne, 48, said she told centre administrators weeks ago that she was concerned about her mother's care. "I wanted some answers ... (about) why things were neglected."

She added that her mother has Alzheimer's disease, which makes her particularly vulnerable. "She can't speak for herself."

Santa Maria executive director John Kelly said facility staff are investigating Hohne's care.

"We're here to serve the residents, the most vulnerable people in our society," he said.

"These individual care concerns need to be taken seriously, but I think everyone has to understand that we have 147 people that are being taken care of every single day."

The centre is open to any recommendations to improve care, Kelly said. "I don't think nothing is being done."

The home has hired a care consultant who looks at specific concerns, he added.

Kelly said he can't comment on the investigation into an alleged assault because it's an ongoing police matter. Some employees were suspended in December after the allegations were made.

NDP Leader Cam Broten has called for a seniors advocate and the implementation of minimum care standards.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan has said guidelines already exist and formal standards aren't necessary.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version incorrectly identified Hohn's mother as Irene.