The separate findings of a concerned daughter and an undercover journalist have exposed dire circumstances at a local seniors home.
Marie Harris claims her 84-year-old mother, Giovanna Conforti died alone and before her time, because nobody attended to her. Harris viewed footage of Conforti’s May 2017 death two months after it occurred.
The secret footage revealed that Conforti’s cries were not being heard as she tried desperately to reach her call bell. Harris claims her mothers call bell was supposed to be placed beside her bed at night, but it was in a chair instead.
She blames staff shortages for the incident and placed the camera there after her complaints to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care went unanswered. Her intent was to monitor her mother’s breathing and likely did not expect to record her painful and isolated death.
Her care plan also required that she be checked on by staff every few hours, but nobody entered her room for over 7 hours. She was discovered at around 7:00 am with her body slumped halfway on the floor and pointed toward her call bell.
It is no surprise that Conforti was denied the required care as staff-to-patient ratios drop can drop to 25 to 1 at times. They are, however, in line with ministry standards, as Ontario does not have a legislated minimum for long-term care homes.
The obvious solution to this and other problems at the home is having more nurses and personal support workers. The reported reality is that the home relies heavily on volunteers, many of whom are high school students. Local seniors advocate, Robert Vallee, who is founder of the Markham Seniors and Family Caregivers Coalition (MSFCC) says home care is the solution:
“The root cause of this unacceptable situation is the management at each facility. 58% of LTCs (long-term cares) in Ontario are owned (and) operated by private sector companies and profit will not be compromised by adding more staff, by investing more in training the staff and by eradicating the culture that abuse, neglect and murders in long-term care facilities are business as usual. The solution is in home care which has the Ministry pay family members to be PSWs (personal support workers) to their Moms and Dads.”
Students are tasked with lifting residents out of their chairs, which could result in them falling and breaking a bone.
Another huge problem uncovered at Ontario nursing homes is violence, extreme violence that in the last year has led to 29 deaths.
A CBC journalist posed as a volunteer at the local facility in question, uncovering abuse and violence at the 96-resident facility. The home ranks midway according to ministry-tracked reports of abuse, disease and medication mistakes.
The violence was captured in the locked wing, where residents are often confused and looking to escape. Footage recorded by the undercover CBC journalist showed a staff being kicked and grabbed.
Staff have also been reported saying that they often find residents lying on the floor without knowing what went on. The ministry has even issued a notice of non-compliance to the home for failing to “protect residents from abuse from anyone.”
Residents have also been recorded waiting one hour to use the bathroom, with their care worker making them wait their turn.
Residents were also found waiting to have their incontinence pads changed, with care staff having to let them sit until they’re full.
Staff themselves agree that they are overworked and cannot meet the basic requirements of patients and residents.
The CBC article also indicated that the ministry is being sent the video footage of Conforti’s unfortunate passing. Issues like the number of one-on-one hours a resident is entitled to vary province to province, and is a key determinant of funding.