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Changes at County’s nursing home affecting care: family council

H.J. McFarland Home’s Family Council is troubled by recent management changes at the County-owned nursing home and fears they may be impacting current care, and the status of the home’s accreditation.

Joy Vervoort introduced family council members at Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting, outlined their purpose and implored council to fill the vacancies as soon as possible and improve all communication within and outside the home.

“We are here on behalf of the residents of HJ McFarland who can’t speak on their own behalf,” she said. “Recent changes have had an impact on the level of services to the people who live in the home. Four of the five management and supervisory positions are staffed currently with interim managers. The fifth position has been assigned to one of the interim managers while the incumbent if off on extended sick leave,” Vervoort said.

The home’s administrator resigned in July and that position is being fulfilled by the former director of care. Her position also has an interim position. The position of Resident Quality Supervisor is also being filled with an interim position during the transition period.

Communication needs to be improved, Vervoort said, noting the family council was not notified of the management changes.

“We are unable to provide information and advice and assistance to residents’ families when we are not kept informed,” she stated. “When we ask questions we receive vague answers; or some of the questions go unanswered.”

Vervoort also noted the recent three-year accreditation at the highest level granted by CARF may be difficult to maintain.

“Strong leadership and continuous improvement form the basis of this accreditation. If standards are not maintained, there’s a risk of loss of the accreditation affecting both the reputation and the transfer payment funding paid by the province.”

That situation, she reminded council, played out in 2014 under previous management regimes following dismissal of staff.

“The loss of revenue from the ministry amounted to close to $200,000 and the County was on the hook to fund the shortfall.”

Vervoort said management and staff have worked hard over the last three years to raise the profile and reputation of McFarland Home from “the very dark period of 2014-15. The reputation may be at risk.”

The family council wants permanently staffing for management positions and other vacancies to be a priority.

“Front line staff providing daily care to support residents, require strong and stable management to provide the leadership and support to carry out their duties.

Referencing a public report, she reminded council “the vast majority of long-term care residents have some form of cognitive impairment and physical frailty, along with chronic health conditions. Ninety per cent have some form of cognitive impairment, and 86 per cent are in need of extensive help with eating, or using a washroom. Staffing ratios have not kept up with this increasing demand on long term care homes which are also faced with being the most regulated area of the health care system in the province.”

She states this is the time for a case to be made to increase staffing levels to reflect these demands, but in the interim wants to see vacancies filled quickly at McFarland Home.

She noted the family council understands staff recruitment presents a challenge for the County with its low vacancy rates and high cost of housing as a deterrent, coupled with competition from larger, urban centres.

“The staffing process needs to be pro-active, creative and streamlined to address the operational, non-discretionary requirements of the home.

The family council also seeks better communication to fulfil its powers to assist, inform, advise, review and report, as entrenched in the Long Term Care Act.

She explained the council assists families through sharing of information and experiences as caregivers to help them navigate the Long Term Care system.

“Members understand the difficulties faced by families when they have to place a loved one in long-term care. It’s a difficult decision. There’s often frustration, and guilt.”

She noted the family council is also the municipality’s eyes and ears at the home and therefore needs “open, transparent and timely communications and we want to be consulted with respect to proposed changes that impact operations, levels of service and quality of care received by the residents.”

The family council’s ask for a commitment from council resulted in an invitation to return to council to report on resolutions or concerns throughout the home’s transition period.

The matters outlined by the family council will be referred to staff for inclusion in the HJ McFarland quarterly reports to council.

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Argyle says:

    And they want to add more beds to the home……..seems that they cannot manage what they currently have……and for sure transparency on how this facility is operated and managed is a re-occurring problem……

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