Family criticizes missing persons policy at Vancouver care facility

A Vancouver family says a care facility in the city needs to update its policy on reporting missing persons. File / Global News

A Lower Mainland family is outraged at a care facility in Vancouver.

“It’s about everyone in licensed care being treated with respect and prompt action if they go missing.”

They want to know why the Virginia House care facility on West 11th Avenue in Vancouver must wait 24 hours to file a missing persons report, even if the individual suffers from severe schizophrenia and is considered ‘at risk.’

Lorraine Davies says her sister Gwen left Virginia House to run some errands on July 10 but Gwen, who has battled schizophrenia for more than 25 years, didn’t return for lunch or dinner.

“Seems to me there is a complete lack of care for a special needs person.”

By the time staff called to notify the family, Davies says more than eight hours had passed by.

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“I got an email from one of the directors that says, ‘It’s our policy to wait 24 hours to file a missing persons report.'”

Davies says she thinks that’s an outdated policy. Her 51-year-old sister is on a strict lunch, dinner and medication schedule.

“My sister could have met foul play.”

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Another family member located Gwen at Vancouver General Hospital that same evening.

She had been suffering from acute pneumonia and was admitted earlier in the day.

Vancouver Police say members of the public do not need to wait 24 hours before filing a missing persons report with police, especially if someone has special needs.

Vancouver Coastal Health, which oversees the operation of Virginia House, says it can’t discuss details due to privacy, but clients are able to come and go without contacting family members.

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