Wandering senior further proves unsafe staffing levels: NDP

Chartier to Duncan: how many seniors’ lives will be risked before you act?

News of another dangerous incident as a result of unsafe staffing levels has come out of a Moose Jaw seniors care home. The government again failed to take action to improve dangerously low staffing levels, even after the disturbing death of a resident in the same facility just three weeks ago.

Staff at Providence Place reached out to local media Thursday after a senior with dementia went missing Wednesday. The Moose Jaw Police Service was called, and officers located the wandering resident crossing a busy intersection.

The incident took place just weeks after another man with dementia, also left unsupervised at Providence Place, ate laundry detergent pods and died.

“How many seniors’ lives will be risked or lost while this government denies it has a seniors care crisis?” NDP Health critic Danielle Chartier asked. “Seniors at Providence Place, and at care homes throughout the province, are not getting the care and supervision they need to be safe.

“The government’s failure to act after last month’s tragic death is disgusting. It is unconscionable those ministers are still choosing to make excuses instead of taking action – despite a growing mountain of evidence, and pleas from desperate and devastated families.”

The NDP has repeatedly raised cases of seniors being neglected or harmed in care as a result of low staffing levels and short-staffing practices. Families and staff have been speaking out in increasing numbers for the last year and, including the most recent death in Moose Jaw, seven deaths as a result of neglect or avoidable incidents have been revealed.

In the case of Fern Chingos, staff were too busy to check her chart, and gave her a medication to which she was allergic. They were also too busy to check on her, so Chingos’ violent allergic reaction went unnoticed. Her body was discovered hours later. Lois Rein fell after being left in an unstable position by a rushed staff. Staff didn’t have time to check on her, either, so Rein was on the floor for hours – her leg badly broken – before she was discovered. Both of those women died. Their devastating stories are not unique.

The government has also seen CEO tour reports that describe horrible conditions as a result of a lack of front-line staff, and reviewed requests from each health region, many of which cited a need for more front line staff. The provincial ombudsman, midway through an investigation into concerns in the seniors care system, cited low staff-to-resident ratios as a province-wide concern. Dozens more families had approached her with their stories and concerns, she said in January.

Saskatchewan used to have regulated minimum care standards that required adequate staffing levels. The government eliminated that regulation in 2011.