Blog | March 16, 2012

St. Albert family says 80-year old mother received inadequate care

By Ryan Tumilty, St. Albert GazetteA St. Albert family is speaking out about the care their 80-year-old mother received, both at Youville Home in St. Albert and at a private Edmonton facility, which they say evicted the senior after the family refused to pay higher fees.Beth Podgurny came forward Wednesday after she says Tranquillity Care Homes Inc. evicted her 80-year-old mother Grace Denyer via ambulance when her family refused to pay a steep rent increase. Denyer was moved to the facility just a few months ago after Podgurny said the family became fed up with inadequate care from the Youville.Denyer moved into the Youville in February 2010, but Podgurny said her mother’s health declined and after she was hospitalized for the second time the family was forced to move her into the private facility in December 2011.

Youville concerns

The family made the expensive decision to move Denyer into the private care facility, because she was getting inadequate care at the Youville, Podgurny said.Her mother suffered from rashes, chronic urinary tract infections and bleeding from being left for hours in soiled diapers, she said.She also said her mother suffered a stroke, which staff appeared to ignore and that it was only after the family persisted that her mother was taken to hospital where it was discovered that she’d suffered a stroke and a fractured elbow.Denyer did well when she first arrived at the home, but the staff were run off their feet and when her mother’s health slid they couldn’t keep up, Podgurny said.“My mother was admitted to the Youville home and as long as she could somewhat fend for herself she seemed to be okay,” she said.Her family believes the conditions at the home accelerated Denyer’s dementia.“We believe the lack of basic care contributed to her health issues,” Podgurny said.Charmaine Ford, director of care at Youville Home, said facility staff worked closely with the family and provided good care.“We really did work hard with this family throughout the time their mom lived in Youville,” she said. “We tried very, very hard to come up with a satisfactory resolution and it is unfortunate we didn’t arrive at that.”The family filed a complaint with Protection for Persons in Care, an agency within Alberta Seniors that looks into abuse allegations.Due to privacy regulations, Ford could not get into details about Denyer’s health and her care, but said Youville supports the agency’s conclusion.“We fully co-operated with that investigation and we were fully satisfied with its findings that certain abuse allegations were unfounded.”Youville Home can deal with patients with complex needs like Denyer’s and tries to keep such patients in the centre unless their health-care needs become incredibly onerous, Ford said.“We make every effort to try to keep them in their home, which we consider Youville, however there are times where we need external resources,” she said.The home is well staffed, exceeding provincial standards, she added.“The staffing levels in all facilities are designated by the Nursing Home Act and the act requires that you have a certain percentage of staff per resident per day,” she said. “At any given time we exceed the expectation of the Nursing Home Act.”Ford expressed her sympathy for the family’s continuing problem getting help for their mother.“It is very unfortunate to hear the struggles they have ongoing. I know they care a great deal about their mom and I am sure their current struggles are weighing on their hearts.”Private concernAt the private facility in Edmonton Denyer’s health improved, Podgurny said, but money became a central issue and despite having a contract in place for the monthly fee the owner demanded an increase in the rent from $3,495 per month to $4,995.When the family refused to pay the increase, the facility owner called an ambulance and moved her out, Podgurny said.“She called an ambulance, I guess, and had her evicted by ambulance to the hospital and we weren’t notified until after the fact,” she said.Podgurny said doctors at the Grey Nuns hospital, where her mother was taken, could see no medical reason for the impromptu transfer and she believes it was about nothing more than money.“We never got any indication that her medical care needed to be increased at all,” she said.A representative from Tranquillity Care Homes told CBC Wednesday that the rent increase and eviction experienced by Denyer were both conducted within the terms of the agreed contract with Denyer’s family.Larger concernPublic Interest Alberta brought Denyer’s case before the media. Noel Somerville, chair of the group’s seniors’ task force, said the eviction is a sign the government should curtail plans for more private seniors care.“For-profit facilities are less likely to provide quality care than not-for profit or public facilities. Care and profit just don’t seem to mix,” he said.The government is simply underfunding the system and seniors are paying the price, he said.“I think it is time the Alberta government stop trying to curtail its health-care expenditures on the backs of people like Mrs. Denyer,” he said.Choking back tears, Podgurny said the system failed her mother and she couldn’t stop it.“I said I would never let that happen to my mother, never before she was in long-term care when I heard these stories and then it happened right before my eyes and I couldn’t do anything to stop it,” she said.She demanded the government do more to help seniors like her mother and called for other people to come forward with their own stories.“Today, my family wants answers from the Conservative government. Why is it possible for our mother and our family to be treated in this appalling condition?”She said government action was the only way to address the bigger issue.“I think the Alberta government has to step up to the plate. They have to realize that our senior citizens are vulnerable and they have to be taken care of,” she said.In the legislature Wednesday, Health Minister Fred Horne said the province has very strict health standards for continuing care that apply equally to residents in privately-funded, publicly-funded, and not-for-profit facilities.Horne said the private facility in question is not publicly funded in any way.“They are not under contract with Alberta Health Services to provide health care,” he said. “They are in no way funded by this government to deliver any form of care. To the extent that they may have misrepresented the services that they provide to Albertans, we think that’s very unfortunate for the family.”By Ryan Tumilty, St. Albert GazetteThis article was published in the St.Albert Gazette on March 15, 2012. Read the full article on the St.Albert Gazette website.