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Premier Moe wrong about standards at long-term care homes, advocates say

Scott Moe, premier of Saskatchewan, speaks while Jim Reiter, minister of health, looks on at a COVID-19 news update in Regina on March 18, 2020. Michael Bell / The Canadian Press

A Regina woman who watched both her parents suffer in a long-term care home as a result of staff shortages is condemning comments made by the Saskatchewan premier.

On Thursday, Premier Scott Moe stated in a press conference that minimum care standards exist in the province, as he flipped through a 191-page policy manual called “Program Guidelines for Special Care Homes.”

“It wasn’t the truth,” said Dianne Morgan, who saw the premier make the statement on her local news.

“I want the premier to know that there are definitely problems in senior care homes in Regina that I am familiar with.”

Both of Morgan’s parents were residents of private long-term care homes. She saw both her parents suffer because there weren’t enough people hired to ensure there was quality care for all residents.

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Because she wasn’t moved often, Morgan’s mother had developed bed sores that she lived with until her death in 2019. On one occasion her mother was given the wrong medication, and it would take up to an hour to have her parents’ call for help answered, said Morgan.

“It was heartbreaking. Heart-wrenching,” Morgan said.

“You watch your parents die right in front of you, and it’s very difficult. It was difficult looking at my mom’s bed sores. My mom lost 50 pounds while she was there and it was tragic.”

Morgan decided to speak up after seeing the premier’s comments televised.

“There needs to be minimum care standards, and there needs to be proper funding for those minimum care standards,” Morgan said.

“The number one issue was lack of staffing. There was never a time there wasn’t staff shortages [at my parent’s home]”
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Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan’s long-term care homes' Saskatchewan’s long-term care homes
Saskatchewan’s long-term care homes – May 29, 2020

The treatment of seniors in long-term care homes has been raised over the years by both the provincial auditor and Saskatchewan NDP. And in 2019, issues at long-term care homes were among the top complaints made to the Saskatchewan ombudsman, who deals with complaints by those who feel they have been treated unfairly by a provincial service.

As the coronavirus continues to claim lives in Canada’s long-term care homes, the Saskatchewan NDP have renewed their call to legislate minimum care standards to ensure facilities are adequately staffed and funded.

This would require all long-term care homes in Saskatchewan — both public and private — to provide a minimum care standard of an average of 4.1 hours of hands-on care to their residents each day.

“Legislation is a lot stronger than a policy document,” said Danielle Chartier, critic for seniors.

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READ MORE: Saskatchewan NDP ask government to set minimum care standard for long-term care homes

On Friday, the minister responsible for seniors, Warren Kaeding, stood by the premier’s comments.

“The Provincial Health Services Act requires all special-care homes and other designated facilities providing LTC to follow the care standards outlined in the Program Guidelines for Special-care Homes,” said Kaeding in a statement, adding they do “in fact, represent a minimum standard.”

The Saskatchewan Party government has taken the approach over the years that quality of care, rather than time of care for each resident is more important.

“Indicating a minimum number of minutes or hours of care per resident does not guarantee safe and appropriate care,” Kaeding said.

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