Manitoba’s Protection for Persons in Care Office, which investigates abuse and neglect of vulnerable people, has launched a probe into the Maples Long Term Care Home after 57 residents died during a COVID-19 outbreak in November.
Maples Long Term Care Home and Parkview Place — which had 30 deaths due to COVID-19 — are still banned from accepting new residents and their licences remain under review more than six months after their outbreaks were declared over.
Advocate Eddie Calisto-Tavares, who lost her father to COVID-19 at the Maples, is happy to hear the facilities are not accepting residents while under review but she acknowledges the problems at Manitoba care homes are not limited to the two locations.
“There are a lot of problems with long-term care, starting with the lack of full-time staff, the lack of ongoing training [in] areas of dementia and infectious disease,” said Calisto-Tavares.
“These folks are on the line every day looking after our loved ones and we don’t pay them enough.”
Dr. Samir Sinha, Director of Geriatrics for Sinai Health in Toronto, agrees problems in personal care homes aren’t the exclusive domain of the Maples and Parkview Place — which are owned by Revera, a for-profit company based out of Ontario.
“We go from a handful of deaths in the first wave, to hundreds of deaths and the majority of [Manitoba’s] homes [were] in outbreak. That wasn’t an issue of one or two operators. That was an issue of just a failure of a systemic response,” said Sinha, who acted as a voluntary expert advisor on a Revera pandemic report on the condition the findings were made public.
“I honestly think that a lot of this prompting of a review of these licences was all about political expediency and trying to shift the blame on to specific homes or a specific operator before it became loud and clear to everybody that the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, the Manitoba government, just really wasn’t well equipped and hadn’t made the arrangements or plans that other provinces had going into their second wave,” said Sinha.
Manitoba Health’s Protection for Persons in Care Office (PPCO) started an investigation into Maples Long Term Care Home “in response to reports of abuse/neglect made following the COVID outbreak,” a spokesperson for Manitoba Health said via email.
The PPCO investigates reports of suspected abuse and neglect in Manitoba health care facilities.
An unspecified number of PPCO investigators are involved in the Maples probe in addition to current case assignments, according to a department spokesperson.
The investigation is ongoing at this time but it is unlikely the public will learn the results.
“Given the sensitive nature of PPCO investigations and the significant personal health information that is reviewed, investigation findings are treated as confidential and not publicly shared,” wrote the spokesperson.
Since the ban on new resident admissions, 86 out of 200 beds remain unoccupied at the Maples facility.
A report from an unannounced visit in March by the province’s PCH licensing and compliance branch said new residents could start being admitted to Maples Long Term Care Home as of June 18, but this has not occurred.
“Revera continues to work with the WRHA and Manitoba Health to address concerns raised in the licence review process and we will accept new residents in due course,” wrote Larry Roberts, spokesperson for Revera.
Maples has “submitted satisfactory evidence in their status updates to demonstrate they have addressed concerns identified in their last standards review,” wrote a health department spokesperson.
The unannounced inspection report findings back up this assessment. It found the facility needed follow-up to minor issues such as detail to cleaning and small repairs.
The report said results from weekly infection prevention and control audits were “very consistent and exceed 85 per cent or better” and documented action plans were put into place to address deficiencies.
It also noted the facility is currently over-staffed for the current number of residents and plans are in place to ensure sufficient staffing once new residents start moving in.
A rigorous reporting regime is planned for when Maples opens up to new admissions. It includes bi-weekly reports on admissions, staffing reports for any shifts not filled and vacancies not filled in any department must be reported.
Improvements noted at Parkview Place
Parkview Place has more than 100 empty beds in its 261-bed facility. A recent unannounced visit noted some positive changes from past inspections.
“Some improvement was noted in overall cleanliness throughout the facility, including kitchen area. However, damaged and deteriorating surfaces (walls, floors, counters, etc.) have not been addressed and the efficacy of deep cleaning efforts is therefore limited,” reads the March 2021 report.
No concerns were noted with respect to staffing levels on the day of the review, according to the report.
Parkview Place is still dealing with a cockroach infestation that’s been around for more than three years.
“Multiple traps/bait strips observed in all areas of the facility, including resident rooms and washrooms. Many contained evidence of pest activity. One sighting of a live cockroach during tour,” reads the report, which requires continued reporting to demonstrate actions taken and progress made in addressing housekeeping and pest abatement issues.
Empty beds are no problem: WRHA
The 186 care home beds left vacant by suspending new admissions to Parkview Place and Maples is not creating problems for those waiting on a placement, according to the WRHA.
As a result of the COVID-19 outbreaks in the PCH sector, numerous vacancies opened up across the province, which made room for individuals on the waitlist requiring a spot, said a WRHA spokesperson.
Health Minister Heather Stefanson declined an interview with CBC News.
In an email, a spokesperson for the minister said “the province of Manitoba sought an independent review — and is implementing all its recommendations — to improve care for Manitobans at all 125 personal care homes in the province.”
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