Report: Quebec nursing homes “deficient and flawed”
December 5, 2018
QUEBEC CITY – Marie Rinfret (pictured), Quebec’s ombudsman, has issued a scathing report about the province’s public nursing homes, characterizing the care given in these centres as “tantamount to mistreatment” and “deficient and flawed.”
Public nursing homes are chronically understaffed, she reported, leading to care-givers who are working being run ragged. Basic services such as baths, shaving and dental care go by the wayside, as does any form of recreation because staff does not have time to get patients out of bed and dressed.
“At many institutions, staff can barely keep up,” Rinfret said in her report. “Needless to say, this causes significant harm to people who are highly vulnerable. This situation is tantamount to mistreatment as defined in the act to combat mistreatment of seniors and other person of full age in vulnerable situations.”
In a news article, the Montreal Gazette gave examples of the complaints coming from residents. No homes are specifically named in the report.
- People not taken out of bed for 36 consecutive hours; others only late in the morning.
- Weekly baths regularly postponed.
- Shaving, oral hygiene and nail care omitted.
- Slow response time to call bells and alarms because of inadequate supervision.
- High risk of assaults among residents who should not be living in close proximity.
At a news conference following the tabling of her report in the National Assembly, Rinfret described the effects caused by the lack of personnel.
“These shortages result in people staying in their rooms, not going to common areas, not socializing and eating alone,” Rinfret said. “The result is what is supposed to be a place to live becomes a place for receiving basic care. This is what leads us to say it’s a kind of organized ill-treatment.”
Rinfret asserted the situation is not much better in some of the 1,800 private senior’s residences, where staffing is also often inadequate and insufficiently trained.
In one home there was a scabies outbreak and 65 residences were infected. The operator tried to cover up the facts and didn’t inform residents or staff to take basic precautions. The home was shut down.
Often touted as the solution to institutional life, home-care services are not keeping up with the demand and the system needs overhauling despite $100 million having been injected by the old Liberal regime, Rinfret noted.
While the number of people who need home care increased by 6 percent between 2015-17, the service grew by only 1.7 per cent. That means 5,500 persons needing home care did not get it. The previous government set a goal of increasing the service by 15 per cent by 2020.
The report covers the years when the Liberals were in power, so cleaning up the mess will fall to the new Coalition Avenir Québec government. There was no immediate reaction to the report but during the last election, the CAQ promised new seniors’ residences complete with flat screen TVs and air conditioning.