04/02/2015 02:41 EDT | Updated 06/02/2015 05:59 EDT

Saskatchewan NDP: Government Failing To Improve Senior Care Despite Tragic Cases

Close up of older man's hands on cane
Chris Ryan via Getty Images
Close up of older man's hands on cane
REGINA - Saskatchewan's Opposition leader is calling for an independent agency to review what he calls preventable deaths at seniors care homes.

New Democrat Cam Broten said there are systemic problems plaguing seniors care and tragic cases of alleged neglect need to be scrutinized.

"If a child in foster care dies, there is a proper independent investigation," he said on Thursday. "We need a similar approach."

Since November, Broten has raised multiple cases of alleged mistreatment and six deaths he says were preventable at homes across the province.

He said the seventh case brought forward on Wednesday should be a "wake-up call" — Broten says a man with dementia at a Moose Jaw facility died from eating laundry detergent pods.

He said the resident at Providence Place home wandered out of his room unsupervised.

"There needs to be a third party, an outside agency that always reviews these types of cases, because there shouldn't be these cases," he said.

The Opposition has been calling for minimum-care standards as well as for the creation of a seniors advocate. Broten has repeatedly said understaffing is an issue in homes across the province.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan said the government has been working to improve seniors care and has added staff to facilities.

"We are trying as best we can to add to front-line staff and change our processes to reduce the harm that is in the system," he said. "We need to learn from these types of situations."

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.


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