There were almost 100 validated complaints against special care homes in the province in 2013, ranging from emotional and physical abuse, to neglect and medication mismanagement, CBC News has learned.
CBC News obtained the number through a right-to-information request, which included the nature of all the validated complaints in the province in the last year. These complaints were investigated by the Department of Social Development and determined to have merit.
The two most common problems were:
- ‘Health/medication concerns,' which includes the improper administration of drugs;
- ‘Conduct/attitude concerns,' which can include the conduct of staff or operators towards residents.
There were 17 validated complaints in each of those two categories
Reports of physical neglect and physical abuse were validated in nine complaints and there were two complaints of emotional abuse.
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Krista Carr, the executive director of the New Brunswick Association for Community Living, which represents the interests of persons with intellectual disabilities, says overall it seems like a high number of violations. She says that’s troubling.
"These are individuals who are often completely reliant and have very few visitors often times, or no family, and all they have to rely on is the system, and so the system really needs to do the best possible job it can to make sure that people are living in good, healthy, safe, happy places to be," says Carr
"Are we doing enough of that proactive monitoring? Or are we only responding to complaints when they come forward?"
The Department of Social Development says there are 403 special care homes in the province offering 6,523 beds. The department says infractions have been noted which range from more minor issues such as food concerns, to those more serious in nature.
'As far as I’m concerned every single one of those categories are serious issues.' - Krista Carr, N.B. Association for Community Living
"As far as I’m concerned every single one of those categories are serious issues and I think the big thing that we have to remember is that the individuals that reside in special care homes, they’re very vulnerable. And under the constant, 24 hour-a-day, 7 day-a-week care and control of others,” said Carr.
Transparency sought by advocacy group
Carr says there should be transparency. She says if violations were made public, it might improve care.
Currently, anyone looking to access inspection or investigation reports where complaints were validated, can call, write or email Social Development to request the information they’re seeking.
"You know public health publishes the results of the checks they do around health and safety for restaurants, for example, so, I as a consumer, I know what that report looks like so I can make an informed decision about whether or not I choose to eat at that restaurant. It’s really no different," she said.
Social Development told CBC News providing special care home infraction information online would not be that simple, partly due to the complexity of those investigations, citing the fact that a report could be as long as 20 pages or more
The department says it has a working plan to make that information available online, but has no target date for implementation.
"That’s information I think is really important for people to have in order for people to make informed choices about where they ... I mean spending the rest of your days living somewhere is a big decision for people to make, and I think being as transparent as we can possibly be, the better," said Carr.
CBC News has made multiple requests for an interview with Social Development Minister Madeleine Dubé. Those requests have been denied.