Personal care home reviews need to be made public in Manitoba: health critics
WINNIPEG -- Records recently released through The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) show there have been causes for ‘serious concerns’ for residents living in some Winnipeg personal care homes.
The 40 documents, obtained by CTV News, are from unannounced Personal Care Home Standard Reviews dating from 2015 to 2019 and were done at several different personal care homes in the city.
Some, but not all, of the reports detail uncleanliness noticed during tours. Evidence of stool stains on bedding was noticed in one facility, soiled laundry being left on floors regularly in another. There were also reports of doors being left unlocked that should be kept secure for residents' safety.
A provincial spokesperson told CTV News in a written statement that these final review reports are given to the regional health authorities and the facility.
“For any standards that are not met during the review, facilities have 60 days to develop and submit an action plan for remediation to the department. Sites must also follow up this plan with a status update for the actions taken and demonstrate they met the measures or standard,” they wrote.
Information from Shared Health shows about 80 to 90 Personal Care Home Standard Reviews are done per year. A provincial spokesperson said that about a quarter of those are done unannounced.
Regional health authorities and the facility receive the final review reports.
Government critics say these review reports need to be made public now.
“It is really critical that this be done,” said Jon Gerrard, Manitoba Liberal Party health critic and MLA for River Heights.
He said the issue has become particularly important in recent months because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the number of deaths linked to personal care homes in Canada.
“We really need to make sure that there’s the accountability, there’s the openness, there’s the understanding in personal care homes that they really need to be at the top of their game,” Gerrard said.
Gerrard would like these reports to start being posted publicly within the next few weeks.
“The fact that these reports are not being released should be a wake-up call,” said Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew. “We should ensure these reports are publicized starting now, during the pandemic so that we can know that these seniors are getting the care they deserve for sure — and then that practice of releasing the reports should continue.”
Enhancing publicly available information on standard compliance was one of sixteen recommendations in an audit done on Manitoba’s personal care homes in 2009 by the Auditor General.
A statement from Deputy Auditor General Tyson Shtykalo explained that the office follows up on record end actions for three years following their release.
“In our final follow-up on the Personal Care Homes audit, we noted that as at June 30, 2013, five of our 16 recommendations remained in-progress,” Shtykalo wrote.
“This includes Recommendation 16 (That the Department of Health enhance publicly available information concerning PCHs to include information on compliance with PCH standards).”
He also encouraged the Public Accounts Committee to actively monitor the status of all outstanding recommendations and hopes it will consider this report for follow-up.
Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living told CTV News it is ‘putting together a plan that will support and maintain the regular posting of outcomes of standards and unannounced reviews conducted in personal care homes. The intent is to provide meaningful information to Manitobans so they can make informed decisions.’
Of the 40 review reports, one done at Golden Links Lodge in November 2016 states the results fo the review are “cause for serious concern for the health and safety of the residents of this facility.”
The review noted cleanliness as a major concern, as well as vacancies in leadership positions.
Before the unannounced review, leadership and governance issues were reported and multiple complaints had been made to Manitoba Health and the WHRA.
The review report noted soiled clothing and linens on resident room floors, chairs, and in the bathroom sink. It also stated that at a resident family meeting, close to half said dirty laundry is left in rooms regularly.
The review also reported an instance where a resident's bed was stuck at 90 per cent sitting angle and not fixed for several days.
It also noted, at the time, residents were being lined up an hour before mealtimes and were not being returned to rooms until an hour after the meal was done.
Marcy-Lynn Larner, the executive director of Golden Links Lodge, sent a statement to CTV News.
“Since 2016, Golden Links Lodge has undertaken measures to improve resident care, communication with families, and the work environment for our staff. This has been especially true in recent months as we’ve put in extra efforts to keep in touch with families while restrictions were in place as a result of COVID-19.
The new senior leadership team and staff continue to be committed to transparency and ongoing communication with our families and stakeholders, including posting information on audits, care reviews, etc. on our public webpage. We have learned and have grown together as a care community, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of care Golden Links residents receive. We are proud of the improvements made, of the staff who support our residents, and we are committed to our residents and their families and will continue to engage their support and ideas in providing optimal care at Golden Links Lodge."
The statement included specific improvements made, which include:
- Regular reviews of each resident’s care plan;
- Instituting family meetings open to all resident families;
- Updated staff policies that promote resident and staff safety;
- Updating resident equipment;
- Implementing regular, meaningful recreation opportunities for residents (outside of the recent restrictions resulting from COVID-19);
- Seeking out meaningful community partnerships to improve community relations as well as the opportunities for residents to interact with others.
The FIPPA request was granted in part. A letter from Shared Health said some third parties did not disclose their records citing exceptions in the act where disclosure would be harmful to a third party’s business.