Families call for investigation into long-term care in B.C., allege disturbing lack of care for seniors
VANCOUVER -- Some family members from Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver say many of the disturbing conditions found in nursing homes in Ontario and Quebec have also been happening here in British Columbia.
They are urging B.C.’s premier to reconsider his decision not to hold an investigation into long-term care in our province.
“It concerns me – it concerns us – to hear our premier saying we don’t need an inquiry, we’re not the same as Ontario and Quebec. I think it’s perhaps arrogant. I think it’s perhaps naive,” said Althea Gibb-Carsley.
She is one of six women who spoke to CTV News and spent time in Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver in March as COVID-19 spread. Each of the women was initially allowed in because they had a loved one living there. Visitors were later banned.
Gibb-Carsley, whose mother-in-law died of COVID-19, says she witnessed troubling things in Lynn Valley that were also outlined in the reports into long-term care in Eastern Canada
“Like care needs not being met. Like people asking for help and not getting it. Like diapers needing changing and not being changed in a timely way. Like cleaning not being adequate. Like medications not being on time,” she said.
She shared a short video with CTV News that she says she took inside the care home. In the video, a woman can be repeatedly heard calling out for help.
The family members also say there are blatant discrepancies between what they witnessed at Lynn Valley and what health officials were saying publicly.
“That there was adequate staffing. That the high touch point cleaning was happening. That meals were being provided,,,We were assured consistently that the resources were in place. That was not so,” Gibb-Carsley said.
The bottom line, they say, is that seniors’ needs were not being met.
“Somebody with COVID was wandering into the room of somebody without COVID and vice versa,” explained Deanna Drew, whose father lives at Lynn Valley Care Centre.
May Mikhail says despite the outbreak, residents were initially still eating their meals together in the Lodge “because there weren’t enough staff to feed in the room."
"So even though it was communicated to the general public the residents were all in their room, that didn’t happen for about a week," Mikhail told CTV News.
She said those staffing shortfalls became even more evident when residents were confined to their rooms as there wasn’t enough people to help seniors who couldn’t eat on their own.
“There were a lot of people not getting their food and I actually heard people say, ‘I’m hungry,’” she said.
Lynn Valley Care Centre has refused repeated requests from CTV News for an interview. In a written response, the facility said:
“Like other care facilities, the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged our facility, spreading at an alarming rate, which added to our challenges of getting ahead of the outbreak. However, from the moment we were made aware of the outbreak at LVCC by (Vancouver Coastal Health Authority), our team along with the VCHA Public Health officers worked closely and did everything possible to stop the spread and providing care for our residents.
Our team worked on the difficult and challenging task of providing care for our residents amidst the challenges caused by COVID-19.
Professional replacement staff was brought in as soon as possible, following a short time when we had some staff shortages. Furthermore, care for residents continued, and daily dialogue with representatives from VCHA who oversee us was instituted.
Residents with dementia always require a higher level of care. Despite these challenges, we took steps to handle these residents with extra care and caution, which was particularly enforced when professional replacement staff was brought in.”
But the family members who were inside the care home maintain there is a crisis in long term care in our province and the government needs to fix it.
“We need to do something about this. We can’t forget them,” said Deborah Drew.
“It’s really important to look at what we learned and how we can do better."
The family members are calling on Premier John Horgan to dig deeper into long-term care in our province and launch an investigation.
CTV News again asked Horgan if he would commit to a public inquiry in light of the allegations that have been raised, but he maintains that he doesn’t believe an inquiry is the right way to go.
“We need to hear form families and I don’t believe we need a public inquiry to do that. My email box is always available if people want to send me their view. What they saw, what they feel, what their views, what their concerns are,” the premier said.
But he does agree that more staffing is needed in long term care facilities.