Vulnerable residents ‘trapped’ in interim care home, families say

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An incontinent man with Alzheimer’s repeatedly left in soiled clothes. A head injury not reported to the patient’s family. Seniors held in an old, deteriorating building with no sprinklers.

The allegations of neglect and substandard care are contained in letters the families of five patients at a nursing home in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., sent to Health Minister Eric Hoskins earlier this month.

The nursing home — Cedarwood Lodge — was opened in 2015 to ease overcrowding at the local hospital by providing temporary stays for alternative-level-of-care patients — those taking up hospital beds because they can’t live independently and don’t yet have permanent care arrangements.

Patients were meant to stay at the facility temporarily before being transferred to long-term-care homes, but two years later more than half who moved to the home when it opened remain there today.

“Nothing is being done to move the current residents to a proper care facility,” said one of the letters from the families, who didn’t provide their names, citing fear of backlash from staff. “Until all of the residents are moved to a proper long-term health-care facility their lives are at risk.”

Officials at Cedarwood and its owner — Autumnwood Mature Lifestyle Communities — refused to be interviewed, but said in a statement that the home’s “shortcomings were unacceptable and beneath the bar Cedarwood Lodge sets for itself.”

The Ministry of Health has acknowledged that problems at Cedarwood pose a serious risk to residents and, after its inspectors documented multiple alleged cases of abuse in their reports on the home, ordered the facility on March 28 to stop taking in new residents.

Since then, only one resident has been transferred out — two have died and 47 remain there, on wait lists for long-term care homes.

The problems at Cedarwood come as the Ontario government struggles to find solutions to the escalating problem of hospital overcrowding. One of those solutions, according to the government, would be moving alternative-level-of-care patients out of the hospitals. They make up 15.5 per cent of patients in the province’s hospitals, according to the Ontario Hospital Association.

The long-term care sector has been urging the government to fund 2,500 to 5,000 new beds — at an operating cost of $52,000 each a year — to meet growing demand. But there was no new funding in the spring provincial budget for additional beds. Instead, $24 million dollars was earmarked for “innovative” ways of dealing with alternative-level-of-care patients, including more interim beds for patients waiting for long-term care.

Hoskins said the province is working on expanding long-term care, but interim-bed solutions, which he stressed need to be “safe and supportive,” are used when it’s the right solution for a community.

“It is generally the result of a unique situation faced by that community where it’s felt that issuing those interim licenses would be an appropriate response,” he said.

Hoskins said the interim nature of Cedarwood is not to blame for its problems, adding that the province is working to improve the facility. He said the home’s owners were ordered last month to institute new management at their own expense. “It’s the top priority, not just to improve the safety, but the comfort and the requisite support for individuals who reside there,” he said.

Advocates, however, point to the problems at Cedarwood as an example of what can go wrong with interim care when there’s a shortage of long-term-care homes. Cedarwood, which was opened in a former nursing home that had sat vacant for two years after a previous operator moved to a more modern building, was given a temporary, five-year license in 2015 with a mandate to operate solely interim beds.

But the nine long-term-care homes in Sault Ste. Marie can only accommodate 24 new patients a month on average, and as of April, there were 655 people waiting for a spot, according to the local Community Care Access Centre.

That means Cedarwood’s patients have no idea when they’ll be able to move out of the facility, which, according to government inspection reports, has repeatedly been understaffed, failed to meet residents’ toilet and bathing needs, and has failed to provide proper care of wounds, pressure ulcers and bed sores at times.

The reports also allege incidents of patient-on-patient abuse. One report alleges a resident sexually abused two others on multiple occasions. Staff were aware but didn’t report the alleged abuse to the Ministry of Health or the residents’ legal decision-makers as required, nor did they allegedly prevent it from continuing.

The same report also documents a case of physical abuse in which one resident injured another, and says the home failed to follow up on a plan to stop the aggressor’s behaviour from reoccurring.

France Gelinas, an NDP member of the provincial legislature, has been trying to help families of those who live at Cedarwood.

The government awarded the home’s license to a company with no previous experience in long-term care and decided to set up the facility in a building in poor physical condition, she said in a recent interview.

“An interim facility means you do not have the criteria to operate long-term care, and we give you a license to operate anyway,” said Gelinas. “Can nobody see this is set up to fail?”

10 COMMENTS

  1. The article mentions resident to resident abuse and sexual assault. There needs to be somewhere other than long term care facilities for high needs individuals. I wouldn’t want my vulnerable family member to be living in close proximity to such individuals.
    It is no wonder they keep getting bumped down the admit list…long term care isn’t what they need.

  2. My Best Friend of 25 years has a family member at this home, she has said nothing but great things about this home in general and about a few of the workers she has had contact with. She has dealt with both Cedarwood and Mapleview and said she prefers Cedarwood for any family member needing care. If families think going to a LTC will be an amazing experience they need to open their eyes its not any better, they just aren’t all over the news because they are a bigger facilities easier to hide. Don’t believe everything you read its usually far from accurate. Every LTC is understaffed these poor workers are worked to exhaustion , under appreciated by families ,other staff members, residents and bosses , but yet many of them provide outstanding care and go above and beyond. Open your eyes Sault Ste Marie it is not just this home I could honestly say the bigger LTC homes and Our hospital are worse just everything that goes on else where is kept hush hush and easier to miss. Unless you have worked in a LTC you have absouletly no idea or will ever understand how the ministry works their guidlines and standards , the PSW/RN/RPN to resident ratio. These homes need more funding to hire more staff cut down residents to psw ratio. Instead they are cutting funding and laying off staff members who really is to blame here it isn’t the homes themselves. The government, ministry whichever isnt in the best interest of the elders because if they were,they would care about residents and workers input on how to make these homes better to be able to provide better care but it seems to me their voices do not matter. So Thank you to all the good hard working PSW/RN/RPN’s. I hope to visit again when we come back home to visit.

  3. Let me tell you a little story about what a disaster our system is of getting a bed in a long term facility can be:
    I had a family member in one of the bigger long term care facilities in town (not cedarwood), there was no children, no spouse and nobody in their immediate family wanted to deal with the finances. My relative is STINKIN RICH, lots of money worked hard for all their life. Well, one day I went to visit, and to my UTTER HORROR, my very wealthy relative was in a subsidized room and their money was under the control of Ontario Trustee (which will happen if immediate family won’t step up). So here is a very wealthy person who can easily afford a private room, taking up a subsidized room for NO REASON when there is a huge waiting list for others to get that subsidized room! Needless to say I snapped! There was no excuse for this, when you move in you have to provide tax records, so someone in the business office there had to know there was a ton of money for care-yet they were put in a subsidized room anyway! After I snapped on the director and execs, the next day my relative was moved to a private room and the subsidized one was made available for the waiting-list people. (like the people at Cedarwood) Apparently because of the stink I made they were going to review all patients under the care of a Trustee to ensure the same wasn’t true for others housed there.
    Story 2- One of my parents needed long term care after a stroke, was put on the waiting list and relegated to the basement of the hospital to ‘live’ until a bed became available. Once they are designated the hospital wants ‘rent’ like a long term facility would charge. OH HELL NO! I wasn’t paying a cent for my parent to sit in the basement, with NO dining area to eat in, a TV room that could fit 5 people max and absolutely nothing for them to do. They told me many had been there over a year already waiting to be transferred out. So that was a second OH HELL NO, is my parent paying for this, nor will they sit down here for over a year. I demanded to take my parent home then. Once I demanded that, another option was given to me, basically extortion. We can ‘fast track’ your parent if you pay an extra 500 or more out of ‘my’ pocket for a year to cover the costs on top of taking all my parents pension, even then it could take up to a year I was told. With my back against the wall, and no other options I agreed to the fast track, if I had to pay myself I guess that was what I had to do, my parent was transferred out the next week to a home. !!!!! Up to a year my ass, clearly money talks! (and I had to borrow the money because we are not wealthy) So as per my first example above, you have a wealthy person taking up the cheapest room for almost a year for no reason AT ALL, while others are waiting for over a year for that bed!! Stomach churning to say the least. And to add insult to injury, there are many of these expensive private rooms in every home sitting empty! Rather than fill them with elders in desperate need and get them out of a place like Cedarwood, they’d rather leave it empty hoping someone comes along that can afford it. UGH! How can these people sleep at night is beyond me.

    • They sleep just fine because they have no consciences.
      This is what this world has come to whoever has the most money, screw the rest.
      The care seniors get in some of these places is despicable, the nurses jam pills down their throats every few hours to keep them zombified so they don’t have to bother with them throughout the whole shift.
      It is truly sad and will unlikely ever change much.

      • That is NOT true Bert. If a shift is short staffed it is not the fault of the workers who are present. They work their arses off to get it all done even though it feels like an impossible task. I know because I was one of those staff members. The place needs tons of work and the admin and DOC staff were terrible. As a PSW you can only do so much. No PSW would intentionally neglect someone. Well atleast 99% of us anyway. To say we have no conscience and sleep just fine is rude not to mention ignorant. You obviously have never worked in a nursing home! Don’t talk about what you don’t know. I stayed way longer than I should have because I actually cared about our residents. They become family.. so please shut it!!

        • Agreed nobody can understand how hard a PSW works unless they r in our shoes or follow us around all day. We work r butts off, our residents r our family. We laugh with them we cry with them we hold there hands when there lonely and we share hugs with them everyday. When they pass we miss them but know it was there time to go. We work hard to make sure they r having the best life they can.

  4. Wynne says she wants to be more “fair”. Perhaps she should start with this intolerable setup. It is just another example of how the Liberals will only pour money into the areas of Ontario where votes are possible to help them win. It is time to get w5 involved and make this terrible situation MORE public.By the way…where is ROMANO in all of this mess ???

    • I believe Romano will be on the case to the best of his ability.
      We need get rid of the liberals altogether in this next election to make a real difference and get back on track. Wynne needs to step down immediately as she has totally lost it.

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