The Provincial Auditor says officials need to do a better job of follow-up when it comes to inspections of personal care homes in Saskatchewan, according to her latest report.
Bonnie Lysyk's report, released earlier this week, noted that problems — identified at some care homes — would linger for years at a time with nothing being done about them.
On Wednesday, the Opposition NDP pressed the government to do better.
Health critic Cam Broten noted issues ranged from water for bathing being too hot, and no soap available to residents, to very serious safety items.
"Blocked fire exits, real concerns for families," Broten said. "And the alarming thing in the report is that, in many instances, the ministry knew about the problems but there wasn't the necessary and correct follow-up to ensure that the safety changes were actually made."
Lysyk's report also found that some deficiencies would be noted in back-to-back inspections of a personal care home.
The report said the ministry of health would routinely document the results of an inspection, but officials did not have a good system for tracking and following up on problems that were found.
Health Minister Dustin Duncan said the government was working on that issue and admitted officials could be doing a better job.
He also said the government is considering publishing, online, the results of care home inspections.
"It would help to give people a better idea of what inspections have found in the past," Duncan said. He added that reporting inspection results could help people make a decision on a personal care home.
"Right now, in fact, under the legislation and the regulations, we cannot publicly report that," Duncan added. "So we've already identified a way forward to be able to do that, through changes to the regulations that we'll be bringing forward next year."
The opposition called publishing inspections online a good idea, but added there should be more spot inspections, not just annual ones.
Lysyk said the length of time between inspections was a concern.
"Without more frequent inspections of homes at high risk, vulnerable residents may be left in unsafe situations for long periods," she wrote.
Saskatchewan has about 245 licensed personal care homes, which are privately owned facilities that provide housing, meals and personal care to seniors.
About 3,200 people lived in personal care homes in 2011-2012.