Fight­ing for change

Hare Bay woman ad­vo­cat­ing for ad­di­tional care for long-term fa­cil­ity res­i­dents

The Beacon (Gander) - - Front page - BY ADAM RANDELL

Sharon Gould­ing-Collins is fight­ing for change.

The Hare Bay res­i­dent wants im­proved care for long-term care pa­tients – par­tic­u­larly re­gard­ing hy­giene and safety.

These are is­sues that first caught her at­ten­tion after her mother, Lil­ian, was ad­mit­ted to Lake­side Homes in Gan­der in April 2015.

Gould­ing-Collins claims her mother was only get­ting one bath per week and ob­tained sev­eral in­juries through­out her time at the long-term care fa­cil­ity.

Dur­ing the early days, when her mother was still very aware of what was hap­pen­ing, Gould­ing-Collins said she “had been slapped and punched in the stom­ach by a male res­i­dent.”

There would be a num­ber of other in­juries to fol­low, in­clud­ing a fall that left a bump “the size of an egg on her head.”

At an­other point, her mother had fallen, and Gould­ing-Collins said no one was aware she had fallen or how long she had been on the floor be­fore she was found.

In just over six months, Gould­ing-Collins doc­u­mented be­tween eight to 10 in­ci­dents.

Lob­by­ing for change

Gould­ing-Collins even­tu­ally ar­ranged two baths per week for her mother. Ini­tially she re­ceived one bath per week, with sponge baths ad­min­is­tered through­out the re­main­der.

But Gould­ing-Collins be­lieves more needs to be done for all res­i­dents at these fa­cil­i­ties, as poor hy­giene can bring about sev­eral health is­sues.

When it comes to res­i­dents’ safety, Gould­ing-Collins places the re­spon­si­bil­ity solely on man­age­ment.

“(Res­i­dents fac­ing Alzheimer’s and de­men­tia) don’t have the cog­ni­tive abil­ity to think, re­act and re­spond as nor­mal adults,” she said. “Cen­tral Health and the man­age­ment of these in­sti­tu­tions are re­spon­si­ble for their safety. These in­ci­dents shouldn’t be hap­pen­ing.”

Gould­ing-Collins sees staffing short­ages as the big­gest prob­lem.

While long-term care fa­cil­i­ties may bol­ster a full staff, she says it’s not enough to man­age the needs of those re­quir­ing con­stant care and su­per­vi­sion.

“The over­all num­ber of staff hired to care for these res­i­dents, it’s not ad­e­quate. They are un­der­staffed,” she said. “Govern­ment pol­icy, which dic­tates the over­all num­ber of staff, needs to be in­creased.

“Once that’s done, it will al­low for ad­di­tional hy­giene care and pro­vide more safety (with spe­cial­ity trained staff) in pre­vent­ing in­juries of any kind.”

Not alone

After form­ing the Face­book group Ad­vo­cates for Se­niors’ Rights, Gould­ing-Collins found out she wasn’t alone.

As of dead­line, the page had nearly 3,400 mem­bers.

“And the sto­ries you hear are ab­so­lutely jaw-drop­ping, you can’t be­lieve some of the stuff that’s hap­pen­ing within the health­care sys­tem,” she said.

The over­whelm­ing sup­port con­tin­ues to mo­ti­vate her to push for­ward.

“We will not be go­ing away qui­etly,” said Gould­ing-Collins. “Not un­til some­thing changes to im­prove the lives of all longterm care res­i­dents.”

Cen­tral Health re­sponse

Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment, Cen­tral Health says it of­fers bathing in the form of show­ers, tub baths, full body sponge baths, and/or bed baths. How­ever, this type of bathing and fre­quency de­pends on in­di­vid­u­al­ized res­i­dent care plans, res­i­dent pref­er­ences, abil­ity to par­tic­i­pate in the ac­tiv­ity, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional stan­dards, and best prac­tices.

The state­ment says res­i­dents re­ceive a full tub bath once a week and a “full body” sponge baths each morn­ing.

“For LTC (long-term care) res­i­dents, full body sponge baths and/or bed baths have a num­ber of ben­e­fits,” ac­cord­ing to the state­ment.

“This res­i­dent-fo­cused ap­proach to per­sonal groom­ing is ideal for LTC res­i­dents who ex­pe­ri­ence phys­i­cal pain get­ting up and get­ting out of bed, may be dis­ori­ented and/or prone to falls due to lack of bal­ance and strength, or have de­men­tia (as the bathing ac­tiv­ity is both phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally de­mand­ing).”

It added res­i­dent’s care and ser­vice needs are, at a min­i­mum, re­assessed on a quar­terly ba­sis.

When it comes to staff, Cen­tral Health in­di­cated it has full staffing lev­els at its 11 longterm care fa­cil­i­ties, adding nurs­ing care is pro­vided on a 24-hour ba­sis by reg­is­tered nurses (RN), li­censed prac­ti­cal nurses (LPN), and per­sonal care at­ten­dants (PCA), and that all staff have been trained in the “Gen­tle Per­sua­sive Ap­proach, a core com­pe­tency of the de­men­tia care train­ing model.”

The health au­thor­ity rec­og­nizes per­sons liv­ing with de­men­tia can be­come com­bat­ive, which can es­ca­late as the dis­ease pro­gresses. These res­i­dents live in the pro­tec­tive care units of its long-term care fa­cil­i­ties.

“Fol­low­ing the Gen­tle Per­sua­sive Ap­proach to de­men­tia care, plans are in place to mit­i­gate risks to self and others (other res­i­dents and staff),” the state­ment reads. “Reg­u­lar safety checks/mon­i­tor­ing and risk-safety plans are de­vel­oped and ad­justed as a res­i­dent pro­gresses in his or her de­men­tia.

“Cen­tral Health has im­ple­mented a Falls and In­jury Pre­ven­tion Pro­gram, which is an im­por­tant com­po­nent of the Healthy Ag­ing Strat­egy. This pro­gram is based on com­po­nents of the Cana­dian Falls Pre­ven­tion Cur­ricu­lum.”

SUBMITTED PHOTO

Sharon Gould­ing-Collins has been fight­ing for ad­di­tional care in long-term care fa­cil­i­ties through­out the prov­ince after her mother, pic­tured, had sev­eral in­ci­dents that left her scratched, bruised and in­jured.

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