WARNING: This story contains disturbing details of allegations of abuse.
Families of people who live in a private Winnipeg personal care home want to know why two health care aides were allowed to work for months after allegations were made that they abused 15 residents.
A woman whose 92-year-old mother lives in Oakview Place, which is owned by Extendicare, was told just hours before this allegation went public that her mother may have been one of the residents who whistleblowers say had been abused.
“They didn’t tell us exactly what happened… We’re in the dark,” said the girl, whom CBC News agreed not to name. “We don’t know if it’s verbal, we don’t know if it’s physical, we don’t know if it’s sexual.”
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said at a press conference on Tuesday that it is investigating allegations of abuse by two health care aides at the Sturgeon Heights nursing home in Winnipeg. The province and the police are also investigating.
Caregivers are currently on paid leave.
The allegations were first brought to local Extendicare management by a whistleblower in February. However, the WRHA was not informed until it was approached directly by another whistleblower on June 10, according to a news release.
The 92-year-old resident’s daughter accuses Extendicare of covering up the abuse allegations.
“I’m disgusted, I’m sad, I’m upset for my mother. We trusted this company.”
WATCH | Allegations of abuse prompt police to investigate two caregivers:
Sandra Goers, newly appointed Manitoba Regional Manager and Director of Operational Quality for Western Canada, said at Tuesday’s press conference that the company has apologized to residents, staff and family members. , and had taken a number of measures to ensure everyone’s safety. .
Another woman, whom CBC News agreed not to name, received a call Monday evening from someone at the personal care home informing her that her father, who died earlier this year, may also have been abused.
“It tears me apart that he had to go through this in his last days of life, and that we didn’t know it,” she said.
The woman said her father started changing about a year ago and became aggressive when changed. He was shouting, “Don’t touch me there, don’t touch me there.”
The family may have thought staff didn’t change his underwear as often as they should, but now they wonder if he was sexually assaulted as he complained of pain in his back -train.
She was not told what kind of abuse her father suffered, but she is haunted by the thought that his last days were ruined in this way.
She is outraged that although a whistleblower came forward in February, the accused carers continued to work from home until June.
“The fact that they kept these people on staff, I’m so angry about that.”
The 92-year-old woman’s daughter who still lives at home said she was grateful to whistleblowers for trying to protect the elderly.
“Those employees who came forward had the courage to say something, and as a family member, we are grateful to them,” she said.
“Some of these residents can’t speak for themselves. They have dementia, Alzheimer’s or mobility issues.”
Neither Extendicare nor the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said when the alleged abuse began, as the Winnipeg Police Service asked that certain details be kept confidential while the police investigation.
Spokesperson Const. Jay Murray confirmed that Winnipeg police are investigating allegations of abuse at the care home, but says no further information is available while the investigation is active.
Underfunded and Understaffed Sector: Union
Manitoba Nurses Union President Darlene Jackson says staff are overworked at personal care homes across the province, including Oakview Place.
She says years ago her union recommended to the province that funding and staff be made available to ensure people in personal care homes receive at least 4.1 hours of care a day.
Currently in Manitoba, the standard is 3.6 hours of care per day, but Jackson says that’s sometimes not met, and some residents receive as little as three hours of care per day.
“We know … [4.1 hours is] a nice place. We know that’s where residents do best, where they tend to thrive,” she said.
“And that [recommendation] came out in 2017. Absolutely no one heeded that message.”
She said the dangers of a lack of care were demonstrated by the COVID-19 outbreak at Maples Long Term Care Home, which began on October 20, 2020 and was declared over on January 12, 2021.
A total of 56 deaths have been linked to the outbreak, including eight over a 48-hour period, prompting the deployment of a rapid response team.
“It makes me very sad that we have this history of long-term care losses, mismanagement and underfunding of long-term care, and we haven’t learned anything from that history,” Jackson said.
Earlier this year, the province pledged $15 million to follow up on recommendations from an external review of the Maples outbreak. He also announced $16 million to address staffing shortages in personal care homes.
On Wednesday, Health Minister Audrey Gordon declined CBC’s interview request.