Campbell River mom says Island Health slow to offer nursing support for disabled daughter


There hasn’t been a lot to smile about lately for 29-year-old McKayla Dunsmore and her mom. McKayla has cerebral palsy and lived at home until she was 22 with constant care from her parents.

“She has very complex needs, is nonverbal, feeding tube, high aspiration and is confined to a wheelchair,” said mom Candie Dunsmore.

She was then moved into a Campbell River group home, where she received good care until her condition deteriorated late last year.

“The group home is only licensed to do so much with being caregivers, and we had a community health nurse that was connected to her, but things have started to change with her, and the out-of-the-house nurses weren’t able to keep up with all the changes that were happening with her,” said Candie.

As a result, she bounced in and out of hospital but has been back in Campbell River Hospital for six weeks as Island Health tries to find a solution.

Candie spends every possible minute there trying to care for McKayla because the nursing staff is so overwhelmed.

“Every 30 minutes, there’s something to do with her and a nurse trying to be on the floor dealing with other patients, and her it’s nearly impossible,” she added. “I feel very sorry for the hospital and the nurses, they’re doing what they can.”

She wants McKayla to be back in the care home and for the caregivers there to have proper nursing support.

She says Island Health is trying to hire from a private nursing company due to an overall shortage of nurses.

“It’s just taking a very long time, and I don’t know why it takes this long for them to do up a contract to get this happening,” said Candie.

She says she is aware of at least five other families who are dealing with the same situation. She also says the cost of McKayla being in hospital so far is about $180,000, “which I feel would have paid for a nursing program for a whole year at least.”

Island Health didn’t answer our specific question about funding for McKayla but did say:

“Island Health is committed to providing the highest quality and most appropriate care possible to meet clients’ care needs.

“We do everything we can to provide health-care services to clients in the community, in their homes or in community-based facilities within the scope of services we are mandated to provide and what is within our scope to safely deliver.

“We are aware and empathetic to the concerns and stress family members and clients experience when they feel care needs are not meeting their expectations.

“We work closely with partners such as community organizations, contracted service agencies, other public agencies and client and family members to determine and provide the services the client needs.

“Sometimes a client’s care needs exceed what we can safely provide in the community.

“In those cases, we may have no choice but to provide care in another care setting – such as long-term care or acute care until risks are mitigated as much as possible. This is only done as a last resort and done with the aim to keep the hospital stay as short as possible.

“Island Health is prepared to work with partners to provide extraordinary funding for health-care services (including nursing care) to community-based providers if this would enable the client to remain in that care setting. We have and will continue to do this, including providing updated/increased funding when this is required.

“We cannot talk about specific patient cases. We are working closely with Community Living BC to ensure seamless care between our agencies.”

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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