B.C. authorities have now power to fine facilities even in cases of neglect or abuse
Following years of complaints, Nanaimo Seniors Village assisted-living facility had new management imposed on it by the local health authority — but experts say the company won’t face fines.
The Island Health Authority in British Columbia took control of the Retirement Concepts facility, last week, following two years of complaints.
According to a report by the central island’s medical health officer, 35 complaints were leveled against the facility in just over two years, from Feb. 16, 2017 to Nov. 15, 2019 . The complaints pertain to “unexpected death,” “Physical Abuse,” “Emotional Abuse,” “sexual abuse,” “wound care,” “neglect,” “staffing,” “nutrition,” and others.
The report states:
“the risk assessment for the facility has increased to a ‘high’ risk rating. I must again conclude that the Licensee is either unable or unwilling to meet their mandated and contracted responsibility of ensuring health, safety and dignity of persons in care. “
The health authority has so far identified 11 contraventions, while it continues to investigate complaints filed after September 2019.
However, experts say the company won’t face fines, and there’s little chance it will be shut down.
As PressProgress reported previously, current regulations shield private care homes from fines. Facilities can only either be placed under temporary control of the local health authority, or closed down entirely.
Isobel Mackenzie, the Seniors Advocate of BC, told PressProgress those measures are seldom used. “It’s a fairly draconian measure to appoint an administrator. It happens very rarely.”
Closure of retirement facilities is even rarer, noted Mackenzie. “We’re not going to close them down because then where are we going to put the people living in them? That’s the problem.”
Jennifer Whiteside, secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees’ Union, told PressProgress problems across B.C.’s private long-term care sector stem back to the privatization of those services, by the BC Liberals, in the early-2000s. “The deregulation of our long-term care system, and the unfettered way in which private operators have grown since 2002 has absolutely led us to this point.”
Retirement Concepts operates 20 retirement communities across B.C. The company did not respond to PressProgress‘ request for comment.