Says her mother has fallen several times at Glenbrook Lodge in St. John’s
A woman whose mother is in long-term care in St. John’s says the 63-year-old isn’t being watched carefully enough.
She said her mother, who resides at Glenbrook Lodge on Torbay Road, has fallen about five times in the last three or four months and “if there was more attention given to people like her, and their surroundings, I think the rate would be less.”
“My mother also had an aliment that didn’t seem to be getting better. When I questioned it, the response was, ‘Oh, I thought so-and-so looked after it.’ The issue would be addressed, then I would notice the bandage wasn’t changed for a few days, so I would ask about it again and would get a response, ‘I didn't know there was an ailment,’” said Sam, who asked that her real name not be published.
Sam’s mother suffers from dementia and other medical problems. She said there’s a breakdown in communications between staff, who are so busy they don’t know if they’re coming or going, and that is affecting patient care.
On Monday, The Telegram obtained a memo sent to family members with loved ones at Glenbrook Lodge in which they are warned about the possible side-effects of staff shortages.
“Glenbrook Lodge is currently facing staffing challenges. As a result there are some days when we find ourselves working short on a particular unit and we may have to adjust the delivery of care to our residents,” says a memo to families from Maj. Rex Colbourne.
“As well, we may have to cancel non-urgent appointments needing escorts if family members are not available to assist,” says the document.
When The Telegram broke the story Monday, Colbourne — Glenbrook’s executive director — referred questions to Eastern Health.
Eastern Health, however, is refusing to answer questions regarding long-term care in St. John’s. Thursday was no different.
Glenbrook isn’t the first long-term care facility in St. John’s to undergo criticism in recent weeks regarding staff shortages. Some residents, and their family members, have said shortages are also affecting patient care at the Hoyles-Escasoni Complex.
Stories have centred around concerns about such issues as medication, the level of patient care, nutrition and understaffing.
Eastern Health has announced it saved $22.7 million and reduced 230 full-time equivalent positions as of June 30 through operational improvement initiatives launched in May 2012.
Sam said while she’s glad Colbourne has taken an upfront approach in addressing the staffing shortages, it’s nothing new. She said family members have had to attend doctor appointments with their loved ones in the past or reschedule if staff couldn’t attend.
“There is just not enough staff. They have two recreation staff for the whole building, (and) very little volunteers. There is no one to sit and comfort a resident when they’re upset,” she said.
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“The personal care attendants are great — most of them. They don’t stop. The other day (Mom) really had to go to the bathroom so I buzzed the staff and his response was, ‘Well, can she wait until after dinner?’ He wasn’t being rude. The staff was just busy assisting others with their dinner and there was no one to help us,” Sam said.
MHA Andrew Parsons, the Liberals’ health critic, says it goes beyond coincidence that at the same time Eastern Health announces it is saving millions of dollars in long-term care, facilties are telling family members they are struggling with staff shortages and families are complaining about patient care.
“I know they’re making cuts, but don’t tell me it is not going to have an impact on patient care. You can’t cut 550 positions and not have an effect on patient care,” said the MHA for Burgeo-La Poile.
Eastern Health’s goal to reduce 550 full-time equivalent positions was announced as part of the operational review in 2012.
MHA Gerry Rogers, health critic for the NDP, said the health system is under incredible stress and the governing PCs aren’t prepared for what’s happening.
“Seniors have indicated to us most want to live at home, but in order to age in place they need support staff and reliable home care, and we don’t have that,” Rogers said.
“We have a housing crisis. We don’t have a program to help with the high cost of rent. We don’t have enough long-term care beds. We have seniors in hospital beds waiting for long-term care beds. This government has never prepared properly for the growing population of seniors,” she said.
Rogers, the MHA for St. John’s Centre, said she has been told that due to staffing shortages, people aren’t getting enough physiotherapy, and in one case a woman told her that if a staff member calls in sick on any given day she’s lucky if she gets out of bed in 24 hours.
“We know there have been cutbacks. We can’t give better and better care by cutting back more and more, and we can’t just warehouse our seniors. Not getting out of bed, no one to help get you washed, that is warehousing, not good comprehensive care,” she said.
She said some residents of Glenbrook, and other long-term care homes, spend too much time in their rooms, with little or no recreation or stimulation.
“They are just there. If I could get 18 hours of home care a day for my mother, she would be home.”