Lack of staff, baths a concern in long-term Saskatchewan care homes

Lack of baths and staffing levels top the list of concerns from people living in long-term Saskatchewan care homes.

Staffing levels and a lack of baths are once again topping a list of concerns from residents of long-term care homes in Saskatchewan.

The issues are identified in reports compiled after health region CEOs toured seniors homes to see what’s working and what can be improved.

Staffing levels were issues in nine health regions. Residents praised employees, but said they’re overworked.

“Staff continue to feel overwhelmed with many initiatives and expectations,” said the report on Central Parkland Lodge in Lanigan, which is owned and operated by the Saskatoon Health Region.

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The same report said: “Recruitment and retention of staff is an ongoing challenge in this rural area.”

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Lanigan is a small community about 125 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon.

The Saskatoon Health Region also said recruitment and retention continues to be a challenge in Cudworth, another small community about 85 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, “with limited health care professionals living there.”

“This staffing situation contributes further to retention as the lack of available staff occasionally creates challenging workloads for those who are on duty. The team works well together – but without adequate staff those who are expected to take on additional workload get tired out.”

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In the Kelsey Trail Health Region, the report noted a lack of staff for meal times causes incontinence problems.

Health Minister Jim Reiter acknowledged that there are staffing issues, but he said the government has done a lot to improve the situation since 2007.

“There’s 800 more (full-time equivalent positions) in long-term care than there was when we formed (government). That’s a dramatic improvement over what was there previous,” Reiter said Tuesday in Saskatoon.

Ryan Meili, the NDP candidate running in the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection, said when seniors don’t get the long-term care they need, they are pushed into a health-care system that is already stretched to the breaking point.

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“The lack of adequate staffing means that front-line workers are run off their feet. In the end, patients end up suffering,” Meili said in a news release.

READ MORE: Families say Sask. seniors homes understaffed

People in four health regions also said they wanted more baths.

“Bathing once a week is good, but residents would like to maybe have access to bathing twice a week if possible,” said the report from Saltcoats Lakeside Manor Care Home in the Sunrise Health Region.

Staffing levels, baths, food quality, a lack of activities and problems with aging nurse call systems that don’t work have been reported since the CEO tours started in 2013.

The 2013 reports raised concerns from across the province about staff being stretched to capacity and residents soiling themselves because there weren’t enough staff to help them get to the toilet.

The Saskatchewan government put up $10 million in October 2013 to address urgent issues in care homes and boosted that a further $3.8 million in December 2013.