Families feel seniors are ‘stuck’ in Nanaimo and Comox care homes

Families feel seniors are 'stuck' in Nanaimo and Comox care homes
WatchThe families of seniors in two Vancouver Island retirement facilities are speaking out demanding improvements from Island Health.

Frances Murray complained to management about her 92-year-old mother’s care in Nanaimo Seniors Village months before Island Health stepped in over staffing shortages.

“It’s deplorable,” said Murray.

“It’s completely unacceptable that we are allowing these facilities to put profits ahead of the care of our senior citizens,” she said.

Her mother lives with advanced dementia in Nanaimo Seniors Village.  Murray said her mother has been given the wrong medication. She also says chronic understaffing has resulted in poor personal hygiene care for her mother, despite paying $6,300 per month in private pay for the bed.

So when Island Health took over control of the care home this week and added their own staffing, it was the biggest relief Murray had felt in months.

“For the first time in months I have a little bit of hope that things are actually going to improve,” said Murray.

Despite long-standing complaints, families insist where there is a problem, it is not as simple as placing your senior parent or loved one in another facility.

“We have to wait till a bed opens up,” said Nanaimo resident Jeff Fix.

“It’s been five months now.”

Fix has been on a waitlist to get his mom out of Comox Valley Seniors Village and into another home since summer.

“It’s heartbreaking,” he said.

Comox Valley Seniors Village was the first Retirement Concepts Home that Island Health took over administration of in September. But long waitlists at other homes have prevented him from moving her out of there.

“Very frustrating,” said Fix.

“And I don’t know how that could be fixed but our whole health care for seniors has to be overhauled big time.”

Island Health executive director of primary care and seniors health Mark Blandford agreed more beds are needed.

“Certainly we require more beds than we currently have,” said Blandfold.

“And we are working on that.”

But in the short-term, families are left wondering what happens in these care homes when Island Health’s six-month takeover ends, with their loved one’s health and comfort hanging in the balance.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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