Blog | January 29, 2014

By Matt McClure, Calgary HeraldRecent inspections of one of Alberta’s largest nursing home providers found one-fifth of the private company’s facilities failed to follow rules aimed at preventing patient scaldings.While the province says a flurry of inspections at 15 centres operated by Revera Inc. found no systemic problems, senior advocacy groups and opposition politicians say they worry for the safety of residents at the three facilities where bathing and showering standards were violated.“I think it’s shocking given the recent public and government attention to this problem,” said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, executive director of Public Interest Alberta.“Too many Albertans in care have been badly injured or died in recent years for any facility not to be religiously following the standards set to prevent these tragedies.”Four residents have died and at least four others have been seriously burned in bathing incidents at Alberta care facilities and group homes since 1980.In the wake of a pair of scalding incidents in 2011 and 2012, the province issued revised and standardized policies to nursing homes and supportive living facilities across Alberta early last year.The rules require proper training for staff, and mandate that tub temperatures be taken and recorded at the start of the day and before patients are immersed in the water.But when inspectors visited Revera’s Riverview Care Centre in Medicine Hat last October, they found temperature readings weren’t being documented.After Herald stories in December revealed two recent deaths due to neglect at the company’s McKenzie Towne Care Centre in Calgary, Health Minister Fred Horne ordered an audit of that facility and closer scrutiny of all of the company’s operations.Earlier this month, inspectors found there was no record that caregivers at McKenzie Towne were trained on safe water temperatures and no documentation that readings were being taken before the first bath of the day.Days later at the company’s Meadowlands Retirement Residence in Medicine Hat, they found there was no evidence that temperature control mechanisms on showers were being maintained and monitored.There was also no proof at the 139-bed facility that staff had been trained on safe operation of therapeutic tubs or that temperatures were being taken before the first bath of the day.Revera officials were not available to be interviewed Tuesday, but the company said in a prepared statement that it had not had any “serious adverse events related to water temperature” at any of the 242 nursing home and retirement residences in operates around North America.“The incidents you note…refer to documentation gaps, such as initialling the wrong column or writing the temperature down in the incorrect spot,” the statement said.“We have policies and procedures in place to meet all provincial regulations related to bathing.”Wildrose seniors critic Kerry Towle said Revera may claim it only has paperwork problems, but she said the inspections raise serious questions about the company’s ability to ensure residents are safe.Towle is especially concerned that the shortcomings at McKenzie Towne were found when Alberta Health Service had a staff member on site watching Revera’s supervisors and staff.“If this was a daycare, the province would have locked the doors,” she said.Officials with Alberta Health Services said the shortcomings found at McKenzie Towne were minor.“Recordings on logs in two of the eight bathing rooms was done incorrectly one day,” the health authority said in a prepared statement.“At no time were residents at risk.”Bob Holmes, father of a Calgary disabled man whose 2011 scalding death is the most recent at a provincially funded facility, said he’s worried the inspections at Revera’s care centres may indicate deeper problems.“As a family member of a resident, I would be concerned,” he said.“If you can’t develop a culture of care among staff and supervisors in a facility, then all of the paperwork in the world won’t ensure someone else doesn’t suffer the same fate as my son.”mmcclure@calgaryherald.comRead the article at The Calgary Herald