Sec­ond rest home owned by Chi­nese in­surer seized

Vancouver Sun - - CITY - LIND­SAY KINES

For the sec­ond time in two months, health of­fi­cials have taken con­trol of a Re­tire­ment Con­cepts se­niors home on Van­cou­ver Is­land over con­cerns about chronic staffing short­ages and ne­glect of res­i­dents.

Is­land Health an­nounced Wed­nes­day that the same ad­min­is­tra­tor ap­pointed to run the Co­mox Val­ley Se­niors Vil­lage in Courte­nay on Sept. 30 has taken charge of the Nanaimo Se­niors Vil­lage.

The ad­min­is­tra­tor, Su­san Aber­mann, will over­see day-to-day op­er­a­tions at both fa­cil­i­ties with the help of two as­sis­tant man­agers. She has 25 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in se­niors care and served pre­vi­ously as Is­land Health’s lead for res­i­den­tial care ser­vices.

Mark Bland­ford, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of pri­mary care and se­niors health, said the “ex­tra­or­di­nary” move stems from con­cerns about Re­tire­ment Con­cepts’ in­abil­ity to staff its fa­cil­i­ties, pro­vide ba­sic care and fix prob­lems in a timely way.

“Es­sen­tially our feel­ing was, and the med­i­cal health of­fi­cer ob­vi­ously agrees, that the op­er­a­tor wasn’t achiev­ing com­pli­ance with their li­cence or de­liv­er­ing safe care,” Bland­ford said.

Is­land Health made the de­ci­sion de­spite send­ing its own staff to run a 32-bed unit at the Nanaimo Se­niors Vil­lage last month. The health au­thor­ity funds 134 of the 150 beds at the pri­vately owned long-term care fa­cil­ity.

“It’s a lead­er­ship is­sue, it’s a staff re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion is­sue and then it’s a staff ed­u­ca­tion and sup­port is­sue,” Bland­ford said. “I will say that this op­er­a­tor’s worked hard to re­cruit new staff, but they need on-site train­ing and they need ori­en­ta­tion and that’s been slow to be given.”

Re­tire­ment Con­cepts was pur­chased by Bei­jing-based An­bang In­sur­ance Group in 2017. The phys­i­cal prop­er­ties are owned by Cedar Tree In­vest­ment Canada, an An­bang sub­sidiary. An af­fil­i­ated B.C. com­pany, Pa­cific Reach Se­niors Hous­ing Man­age­ment, op­er­at­ing as West Coast Se­niors Hous­ing Man­age­ment, is re­spon­si­ble for the de­liv­ery of care and ser­vices.

“For the last sev­eral weeks, West Coast Se­niors Hous­ing Man­age­ment and Nanaimo Se­niors Vil­lage have been work­ing with Van­cou­ver Is­land Health to try and ad­dress com­pli­ance is­sues that are largely re­lated to staffing chal­lenges,” Jen­nie Deneka, a part­ner at West Coast Se­niors Hous­ing Man­age­ment, said in a state­ment. “Un­for­tu­nately, our col­lec­tive ef­forts have not pro­duced the re­sults re­quired to en­sure full com­pli­ance of li­cens­ing.”

Deneka said West Coast will work with the ad­min­is­tra­tor, li­cens­ing, the health au­thor­ity and gov­ern­ment to tackle con­tin­u­ing chal­lenges with re­cruit­ment and staffing.

Is­land Health’s board of di­rec­tors took ac­tion in Nanaimo at the rec­om­men­da­tion of Dr. Paul Has­sel­back, the Cen­tral Is­land’s med­i­cal health of­fi­cer. He noted in a re­port to the board that Nanaimo Se­niors Vil­lage had a low haz­ard rat­ing in June, but elicited five com­plaints about in­suf­fi­cient staffing through July and Au­gust. “Since the be­gin­ning of Septem­ber, 16 ad­di­tional com­plaints have been re­ceived which are un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” his re­port says.

Has­sel­back cited con­tin­u­ing and de­vel­op­ing con­cerns about med­i­ca­tion de­lays, in­ad­e­quate treat­ment of wounds and poor care that might have led to hospi­tal stays.

The Hospi­tal Em­ploy­ees’ Union, which rep­re­sents staff in Nanaimo, wel­comed the lat­est de­vel­op­ments.

“We have been call­ing for the ap­point­ment of an ad­min­is­tra­tor at Nanaimo Se­niors Vil­lage since Septem­ber to ad­dress the re­ally sig­nif­i­cant and un­prece­dented cri­sis that be­gan to emerge in that fa­cil­ity over the sum­mer,” Jen­nifer White­side, sec­re­tary-busi­ness man­ager, said in an in­ter­view. “It cer­tainly is wel­come, but I think there is no ques­tion that there is con­sid­er­able work to sta­bi­lize the staffing at that fa­cil­ity over the longer term.”

The union con­tends that the staffing short­age stems in part from the low wages paid to care aides and li­censed prac­ti­cal nurses at pri­vate fa­cil­i­ties on the mid-Is­land.

“Un­til we get back to a sit­u­a­tion where we have a com­mon stan­dard across all long-term care fa­cil­i­ties, and pri­vate op­er­a­tors are no longer per­mit­ted to ex­tract profit from the sys­tem by driv­ing wages and work­ing con­di­tions down for the staff, un­til we elim­i­nate that per­verse in­cen­tive in the sys­tem, we’re go­ing to con­tinue to have these kinds of prob­lems,” White­side said.

Is­land Health also has its own peo­ple staffing a 38-bed unit at Re­tire­ment Con­cepts’ Selkirk Se­niors Vil­lage in Vic­to­ria, but there are no im­me­di­ate plans to in­stall an ad­min­is­tra­tor at that fa­cil­ity.

“It’s a sep­a­rate in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” Bland­ford said. “It’s on­go­ing. There are clearly sim­i­lar is­sues, but at this point in time we’re work­ing hard with the op­er­a­tor to avoid it.”

Bland­ford said Aber­mann has al­ready made progress at the Co­mox Val­ley Se­niors Vil­lage.

“I would say there’s been im­prove­ment there,” he said. “Staff are cer­tainly hap­pier. I mean, you can’t cre­ate mir­a­cles overnight, but the ad­min­is­tra­tor there has put into place some pro­ce­dures and prac­tices which are start­ing to im­prove care. I think the fam­i­lies are hap­pier.”

GOOGLE STREET VIEW

Health of­fi­cials have ap­pointed an ad­min­is­tra­tor to take charge of the Nanaimo Se­niors Vil­lage, above, amid con­cerns that the op­er­a­tor wasn’t “de­liv­er­ing safe care.”

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