November 17, 2018

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Provincial investigators find 'cases of mistreatment' at Portage personal-care home

The province has placed conditions on the licence of a Portage la Prairie personal-care home and ordered it to stop taking in new residents until further notice following an investigation into nearly two dozen complaints at the facility.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen said Wednesday that Lions Prairie Manor, a 136-bed facility operated by the Southern Health authority, will remain in full operation while it addresses findings by the province's Protection for Persons in Care Office (PPCO) that it failed to meet several provincial standards in its care for residents.

PPCO investigators concluded that 17 of 21 complaints made by patients and their families were deemed likely to have occurred. Twelve of those cases were "determined to have been cases of mistreatment," although "no incidents were considered abusive or neglectful" under the Protection for Persons in Care Act, the province said.

Friesen said incidents "ranged on a continuum of severity."

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The province has placed conditions on the licence of a Portage la Prairie personal-care home and ordered it to stop taking in new residents until further notice following an investigation into nearly two dozen complaints at the facility.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen said Wednesday that Lions Prairie Manor, a 136-bed facility operated by the Southern Health authority, will remain in full operation while it addresses findings by the province's Protection for Persons in Care Office (PPCO) that it failed to meet several provincial standards in its care for residents.

PPCO investigators concluded that 17 of 21 complaints made by patients and their families were deemed likely to have occurred. Twelve of those cases were "determined to have been cases of mistreatment," although "no incidents were considered abusive or neglectful" under the Protection for Persons in Care Act, the province said.

Friesen said incidents "ranged on a continuum of severity."

"Some of these had to do with how a patient's personal-care plan was adhered to," he said. "Some issues involved toileting practices during meal times. People having to wait too long for services. Some of these involved (residents) not being moved carefully (within the facility) or in accordance with their care plan."

Cameron Friesen, Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Cameron Friesen, Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living

The PPCO report was not made public. The province issued a press release and a two-page background document. Neither went into detail as to the exact nature of the allegations against the facility.

Friesen said he was advised by officials that release of the report would contravene the Personal Health Information Act. Asked why the province couldn't have simply redacted any personal information, the minister replied that it would have been "an encumbrance" to do so.

Based on the limited information provided Wednesday, it appears that nursing home staff lacked training and failed to follow individualized resident-care plans. The care home also failed to keep records of complaints against the facility and how they were handled. It appears patients at times were moved within the facility without due care. Patients were not assisted with toileting as promptly as they should have, including when they were in a group setting at meal time.

The province said Lions Prairie Manor was placed under review last December following complaints received between August 2016 and October 2017. Friesen said the complaints continued to come in once the review was established. PPCO investigators interviewed more than 100 people before compiling their report.

Friesen said the review sat on his desk "for less than two weeks" before the government issued its directive Wednesday outlining expected improvements.

He said he hopes that the government's directives "will provide some comfort" to families who came forward with their concerns and complaints.

Winnie Best, resident at the Lions Prairie Manor Personal Care Home (right), and friend Adrienne Lasson enjoy the sun in Portage la Prairie.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnie Best, resident at the Lions Prairie Manor Personal Care Home (right), and friend Adrienne Lasson enjoy the sun in Portage la Prairie.

"We know that there is trust that is necessary to rebuild," the minister said. "We want to rebuild that trust."

Liberal MLA Jon Gerrard said the government should have acted much sooner to address complaints about the facility. In May, his party prepared a 20-page report documenting incidents reported by family members.

"I believe they could have acted much sooner... and should have been more responsive to people who were bringing forward concerns," he said Wednesday.

According to Gerrard's report, one resident was left alone in a bathroom for 45 minutes, while another man with Alzheimer's had his moustache shaved in error even though it was explicitly noted that it should never be removed because of his worries about a scar from a childhood surgery for a cleft palate.

Resident Winnie Best suffered a fall within a week of moving into the home in February 2017. She fell a second time in May, seriously bruising her body from shoulder to hip. And she fell a third time in August.

Her daughters, Bride Meehan and Pauline Love, were told their mother was "banged up, but nothing was broken." It took the home 24 hours, they said last spring, before a doctor saw their mother, called an ambulance and ordered a CT scan that confirmed her hip was broken.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Meehan and Love said their concerns last fall about their mother's increasing respiratory issues were ignored until they finally pressed staff to call an ambulance in January. Doctors removed three litres of fluid from Best's lungs, the daughters said.

Neither Meehan nor Love was available for comment about the province's actions on Wednesday. A family member of another resident who had come forward previously declined comment.

Provincial directives to Lions Prairie Manor

Click to Expand

• Staff be educated about the Protection for Persons Care Office, the act under which it operates, and its reporting requirements.

• All staff will complete a respectful workplace "educational opportunity."

• Lions Prairie Manor will ensure that staff are familiar with patient-care plans and institute a formal process for communicating changes in care plans.

• The care home will clearly communicate and reinforce the expectations of management to staff on toileting patients during meal times.

• The personal care home will ensure that patients are transferred (within the facility) in the manner described in their care plans.

• Lions Prairie Manor will ensure all allegations of abuse/neglect are thoroughly investigated and that complete investigation notes are kept. Investigations are to be completed "regardless of the staff member's employment status at the facility."

Before meeting with reporters late Wednesday morning, Friesen briefed family members who had come forward with their concerns on the government's actions in a conference call. Also involved were representatives of the health authority and the authors of the PPCO report.

Jane Curtis, CEO of Southern Health-Santé Sud, said the health authority expects to provide evidence that it has fully implemented the province's directives before a mid-December deadline.

Like, Friesen, Curtis would not discuss specific allegations, citing privacy concerns, nor would she say whether any staff had been disciplined or terminated as a result of the PPCO investigation.

She said most staff have already undergone remedial training and that management staff would be beefed up to ensure individualized resident-care plans were followed and recommendations for improvement are implemented. She also promised regular communication between the care home and families.

"We sincerely apologize for any mistreatment experienced by the residents and families," Curtis said. "We take our responsibility for taking care of seniors very seriously, and we really are fully committed to ensuring that the (government) directives are carried out."

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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