Editors Note: The previous version of this article contained incorrect information about a Ministry of Long Term Care investigation into a Petrolia nursing home. While the investigators cited the home for not investigating an allegation of abuse, the reporting of the incident and the home’s adherence to a zero tolerance policy toward abuse, the ministry investigators did not make a finding of whether the abuse occurred. The Independent regrets the error and the any confusion it may have caused. The error has been corrected on all of our online platforms.
The Ministry of Long Term Care has given four written notices to a Petrolia nursing home for failing to properly investigate allegations abuse and neglect of a resident and breaching the Residents Bills of Rights.
See the report here: http://publicreporting.ltchomes.net/en-ca/File.aspx?RecID=25891&FacilityID=20187
Two ministry investigators went to Fiddicks Nursing Home after a complaint was lodged by a resident’s family member.
Maria Moore says staff members told her mother to soil herself instead of helping her to a toilet. That left her in tears and upset.
Moore lodged a complaint when it happened. Another worker reported the allegations in written notes and to a supervisor and submitted a statement on the incident three days later.
While the investigators’ report did not make a finding on the allegation, the report says’
“In an interview with a staff member, they reiterated that the resident reported that another staff member made a derogatory comment and refused care that was very upsetting to them at the time and later that day as well. The staff member said that the resident was obviously very thrown off, and they reported the situation to their immediate supervisor that day. Three days later they sent a statement of the incident to their manager. The staff member said that they did not speak to the Director of Care or the Administrator regarding the incident.
The Director of Care (DOC) said that they did not speak with the resident or the staff member who reported the incident as part of their investigation. The DOC and the Administrator said that the comment that the resident reported to the staff member would have been considered verbal and/or emotional abuse. They said that they were notified of the incident three days later and it should have been reported immediately to the DOC.”
“When we went through all of the hundred pages of notes that they had they found, a nurse had charted that my mom had said that to them. So, then they failed to advocate for my mother … they failed to notify the director of care that this neglect went on. And there was no policies in place for reporting or ensuring that it doesn’t happen again,” says Moore.
The investigators say the delayed investigation was a breach of a zero tolerance policy toward neglect.
The ministry investigators also found the home did not launch a full investigation, noting neither the family, the resident nor the worker were interviewed by the home about what happened.
The investigators in their Sept. 2 report, issued written warnings about the violation and asked the home to come up with voluntary plans to ensure it didn’t happen again.
The fourth complaint stemmed from Moore’s concern over Fiddick’s visiting policy during the pandemic.
When visitor restrictions eased across the province, family members at the Petrolia home were required to either log into their medical account to prove they had tested negative for COVID-19 or give specific times and dates for their test and when the negative result was received in a signed document.
At the time, residents were allowed to have visitors outdoors without a COVID-19 test. The province had also directed nursing homes they could not ask for personal information about COVID-19 tests – the family only had to attest to the information.
The investigators say the home said the negative test was required because the outdoor tests were being held in the courtyard and visitors would have to walk through the home. Fiddicks officials added visits were scheduled for outdoors but could be moved indoors when people arrived, so the negative COVID-19 was required. The home also didn’t offer an outdoor alternative, refusing the Moores a time to visit.
“The home did not fully respect and promote residents right to communicate in confidence, receive visitors of their choice and consult in private with any person without interference,” the report concluded.
Moore says the new visiting rules are still not being followed, a month and a half later. The province now allows essential care givers to the bedside at anytime with a negative COVID-19 test, health screening and a surgical mask. Moore says she is limited to visiting her mom on Wednesday every week for just two hours in her room.
But there are now alternatives; Moore says, they are taking advantage of new short term visit rules. The family has bought a wheelchair accessible van to take her mother out of the home whenever they can even though nursing home staff seemed upset by the move.
“There was some negativity that first day when everyone was allowed to come out, because the girl who worked at the desk said, ‘You know, I wish none of them are going out.’ …She made it very clear she was not happy with the process.”
When Moore first raised concerns to The Independent about how Fiddicks was managing residents visitors in late July, the Director of Resident Care, Mandy Judah, said in an email 99.5 per cent of the residents and family were “favourable” to the current restrictions and “had no complaints.”
Moore confirmed that saying while there was grumbling about the way visits were being conducted while people waited to connect with family, the family council was supporting the rules at the Petrolia home.
“The ministry inspector said as they sat and met with family council because I was protesting about the access… they said they had to act in the greater good of all…the family council and the resident council all agreed that they actually didn’t want any family members visiting,” she says.
Moore also had family of other residents say they would never support her complaints about the state of visiting.
Judah, in an email on July 28, also noted the home was justified in making the changes to provincial rules. She says under the Ministry of Long Term Care Directives, “Homes will have discretion in scheduling (visits)” and must “consider the staffing and space available to the home to maintain safety of residents, staff and visitors”.
When the Minister of Long Term Care announced the latest changes a week ago, she said the move would give all residents same access to their essential care givers.
An advocate for seniors in long term care, Dr. Vivian Stamatopoulos, associate teaching professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, believes a majority of long term care homes are following the new rules giving residents more personal care from family.
But she says many are not. “I’m still having a lot of families saying, ‘we haven’t heard yet about what the exact policy is.’ Or they’re still deferring to public health. And some of them are outright just pretending they don’t know about it, says Stamatopolous.
And she says there is still a lot of fear in nursing homes across the province that if family advocates for their seniors, there will be trouble in the home.
“That is the largest factor for why you’re not hearing enough about it, no question about it… They’ve got the loved ones captive. It’s a real fear.”
Moore says the short-term stay visits have made a difference in her mother’s life. She’s been able to go to her husband’s graveside for the first time and grieve with her family over his death. She’s been able to visit siblings who are also aging. They’ve commented on her deterioration. “She’s dozing off because she’s on so much more pain meds and she’s exhausted,” says Moore. “I put her words on Twitter, she says it’s so nice to be able to get out of the morgue for the day. All you do is just sit around waiting for the next person to die.”
Moore says as she complained to the home about the physical and mental health issues, she was given a form to apply to move her mother to another home – a suggestion she is taking.
For its part, Fiddicks has been asked to provide a “voluntary plan of correction” showing staff are trained on neglect by people in positions of trust and imbalances between staff and residents as well as for their reporting and investigation policies on abuse and neglect.
In a social media post Wednesday night, Fiddicks owner, Mike Fiddick, acknowledged the ministry’s investigation and its findings.
“We would like to note that voluntary corrective action has been taken to ensure that a situation of this nature does not occur again and that the residents dignity, choice and care is respected by staff,” said the post signed by Fiddick and the director of resident care.
“There is zero tolerance for abuse and neglect, as such our staff receive training on hire, annually and with any changes in the policy.”
And the nursing home operator said he stands by his actions to protect residents from COVID-19, even though the ministry found they violated the Resident’s Bill of Rights.
“We do stand by our decisions in the management of COVID-19 thus far, and continue to follow the guidelines by the ministry as new processes and rules come about frequently. We will continue to update families, residents and staff as new policies are developed.”
And Fiddick received support from a number of residents family, including Brenda Flatley who wrote; ” I believe Fiddicks has done an outstanding job during this pandemic and before.”