Family members concerned about under-staffing of long-term care homes

There is a growing chorus of complaints about the staffing level at a Regina nursing home. Families are demanding the health minister take a look at what they believe are system-wide problems that are resulting in inadequate care for the people they love.

Carrie Klassen has spoken up about the issues at Sunset Extendicare where her mother resides, before.

“People waiting to go on the toilets, or if you’re bed-ridden and something and someone doesn’t come for two hours,” she said of the conditions she’s witnessed of other patients in the long-term care facility.

But Klassen isn’t alone in speaking out.

“In some extreme cases, their physical needs, they are actually in physical danger, or physical discomfort,” said Lynne Seabourne, whose husband has spent nearly 12 years there.  She says her husband has suffered from depression from the poor morale and overall atmosphere of a facility perpetually understaffed.

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“The situation there really has deteriorated to a point where I felt I needed to take a stand for the caregivers and the nurses,” she said.

Sunset Extendicare admits they’ve had some short-staffing in the past that they’ve now dealt with and said they are providing more than adequate care to the 152 residents.

“Our professional staff here at the facility are doing an amazing job of providing care to our residents here,” said administrator Kevin Siebert.

Klassen and Seabourne disagree, saying that even if the facility is ‘fully staffed’, there simply aren’t enough workers.

Extendicare wasn’t forthcoming with an exact ratio of number of patients to a single care worker, but Klassen said they told her on average that ratio was around one care worker for every 9 patients and as many as 12 patients in the evenings. She says she’s worried about the stress load of frontline staff.

“When you go in the hallway sometimes there isn’t anybody. Bells are going off and you’re saying, ‘where is everybody?’ and they’re in a room, they can’t just drop (the patient they’re working with) and run (to another),” she said.

The government has now launched a 60-day province wide review.

“Is this a systemic issue within the healthcare system in long-term care facilities or are we talking about particular facilities that may have specific challenges?” said health minister Dustin Duncan.

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The review will finish mid-June.

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