Not at the cost of the resident!

As a civilized society we have elevated ourselves. We’ve developed communities, education, social interaction and medical care.  We endeavour for advancement at our place of work so that we may continue to achieve.  We raise families with morals and standards. We follow religions and beliefs and we even care for our deceased with elaborate celebrations and costly ceremonies … so why is it so difficult to care for our elderly?


I’m trying to wrap my head around this.  If I went to a local car dealer and ‘purchased’ Model A in red, I would expect to get Model A in red.  If my choice was not available at the time of ordering, the dealership should inform me, otherwise they may have to ‘compensate’ me for failing to deliver.  If I hired a lawn service to care for my lawn, I would expect them to provide service, if not, they should either refund me or terminate our agreement.  If I pay for my mother’s admittance into a ‘Nursing Home’ I am expecting the care, maintenance and attention that my monthly fees are covering.  This is where I fall short in understanding.

If society, Government or business did not believe in a need for a care facility for our elderly then the industry should not be developed.  In our society we need a place to assist families in caring for our seniors.  Our Government, (not all governments), also believes in offering this care and has taken on the role of regulating the industry.  Business sees the financial opportunity to capitalize on societies’ needs.  All of this is great news for our society.  However, when was it okay NOT to deliver the proper care for our seniors.  I am aware that unique situations may prove challenging, but to offer a lowered ‘quality of life’ and care environment at this stage simply does not make sense.

The Toronto Star reported a story about a granddaughter’s concerns about her grandmother’s bed sores

“(granddaughter) took photos and then sent them to the Ministry of health when she found her grandmother with an infected bedsore at (named) Lodge Nursing Home.  The Ministry didn’t send anyone for months.” 

(Grandmother) is now in Credit Valley Hospital, thanks to her family’s advocacy.  But the nursing home complaint filed by her granddaughter, with the ministry got no results.

(Granddaughter) emailed those photographs, with a complaint, to the ministry last spring. The ministry inspector didn’t visit the home until Aug. 25 — two months after (grandmother) was permanently moved to the hospital.

Without interviewing the family, the investigator discounted the complaint and later told (Granddaughter) the photographs were not accepted because they could be edited or photo-shopped.”


I am not in a position to state who is at fault or that ‘fault’ should even be placed in the above mentioned instance, however here is what I want to ask. What if that was YOUR MOTHER?  What if that was YOU and no-one listened to your cries for help?  You have paid for a service – a service to deliver a certain level of care and empathy.  After all, the brochure showed how happy everyone was and I am sure you were made to feel how this was the perfect place for your loved one.  If it was YOUR MOTHER, what would you do?  If it was Donald Trump’s mother what would he do? If it were Prime Minister Harper’s wife, what would he do? Or even Mr. Wonderful – Kevin O’Leary’s mother?

Perhaps a clearer understanding can be found in outlining the supply chain of care.

Looking at the supply chain of service we see that the top tier are Corporate Owners, (business), and Government.  We know not all good things come from this relationship, as often they are entwined, however it is a fabric of our society and it makes everything we have work. (Working well or not well is a different topic).
Does the Government have the correct policies in place?
(From the report “A Star investigation has found that the failure of nursing homes to deal with pressure ulcers results in catastrophic injuries to elderly residents. Many die, painfully, from these grotesque, infected sores, leaving families devastated.

Last year, inspectors from the Ontario Ministry of Health issued 229 violations in 213 homes — up from 88 in 77 homes the year before. That spike is likely due to a boost in the ministry’s tough new annual inspections — there 589 carried out in 2014, compared to 45 the year before.”)
Government is increasing the requirements but do they have the muscle to enforce them?  If not, what’s the use?  I don’t have to stop at a stop sign if the authorities don’t see me.  If I decide to break the rules is the punishment harsh enough for me to think twice, or am I willing to take the risk? The risk being, getting caught and paying the price or the risk of killing someone or myself.

Business Owners – They may be in this industry for several reasons but I’m guessing it is monetarily based.  (If you are in to actually provide quality care for residents – I commend you!).  They make money by offering care for seniors.  We all know there is a timeline associated with each resident but it should be your mandate to offer the best ‘quality of life’ to your ‘paying’ residents. (Paying is either private or Government funded and the funding comes from the public – the same people that require the care).

Perhaps a sliding pay scale should be introduced.  For example – if corporate provides quality care they receive $X/mth. For every lack of/or poor delivery of service they are paid less and if the resident  becomes ill or dies under their service as a result of poor care, non-compliance or negligence they OWE the family $X amount!  I wonder how differently they would look at the resident or how they would hire/train employees. (I know what you’re thinking – if that were to happen, the monthly cost would be much higher!  Yes and competition would take over).  It is a business … for profit, but not at the cost of the resident!

Unions – Designed to protect the rights of workers. Not designed to protect the rights of poor performing workers. (I know, how dare I!  Have a private conversation with workers in the Union.  They won’t publicly say it but they will share that the Union protects even the poor performers.  Those that shouldn’t be there).  I agree with the Unions protecting the staff but not at the cost of the resident!  Is the Union responsible in providing proper training for its members?  Do they follow up with the organization to make sure there are strategies and policies in place to provide a healthy work environment – including mental health and whistle-blowing for its members?

Employees – Is the employee qualified to perform the duties required?  In providing care, should a problem arise, did the employee escalate the concern?  Who is responsible in providing proper training – Owner, Government, Educators, Unions?  If you are the employee and you know there is an issue … why would you not want to correct it?  You are in the business of caring for others, NOT, not caring for others?  Was the employee pushed back and or threatened upon escalating the concern?   If the employee was not performing to standards, Administration/Corporate needs to have policy in place to address the ‘why not’ and offer methods of improvement.  In either circumstance, shortfalls may happen but not at the cost of the resident!

Administrator  – The Administrator position is under pressure from all angles.  Government inspections, owners, staff, regulation/Acts, residents, families, budgeting and more.  This position is the quarterback equivalent for all the moving parts required to operate a successful organization.  This position continues to prove challenging as it could easily make or break the community.  We have met many Administrators.  Some are good and some not so.  The stress can be overwhelming, however it is a position you applied for.  Like any position, if it is not for you, you should move aside.  Does business put too much strain on the Administrator?  Are they properly trained for the position?  Do they have the correct disposition to be an Administrator?   The Administrator is of no help to the residents or themselves if they are unable to perform or are not qualified to hold the position.  Sure the money is good but not at the cost of the resident!

Accountability should not be viewed as a negative or for blame and shame.  Accountability should be in place to tighten the cracks and offer increasing quality of service and respect for all…including Employees.

Basically, what I took from the article was … So your Mother is in pain (or dies) … as a result of complications from infected bed sores.  NEXT!

I cannot grasp why we are not able to come together in understanding that as a society we want to care for our elderly and we have created services to provide that, yet so many battles exist in delivering that care. We all understand that we will not be here for eternity but should we not be provided with quality of life as we age.  I know I don’t want to be treated poorly and left in pain.   We are the people, we created the government, we pay that authority to provide services that care for us.  Is it about money? Is it about the math indicating that we will not be prepared for our elderly … for ourselves as we age?

I do not feel that I am looking through rose colored glasses or wishing for a Utopian world, rather I feel that we have the power to make little changes that would improve the quality of life for our elderly, seeing that we set out to care for them.  Their lifelong journey has led them to this point, they need us! One day we may be in their bed.


Pivotal Aging Innovations Inc.  delivering comprehensive Canadian mandated education and training programs for healthcare workers in elder care featuring W.R.A.F.T., People Centred Care and The Ashby Memory Method™.