A joint CBC-Radio Canada examination of personal care homes in Saskatchewan provides families with direct access to almost 200 inspection reports.

The reports are used to identify how personal care homes are meeting provincial regulations.

Most of the residents are frail and elderly and unable to look after themselves on their own. Many suffer from Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.

Saskatchewan has 240 sites, most operated by private sector providers, where more than 3,000 seniors live.

Of the 2012 provincial inspections reports CBC News examined, common problems identified included:

  • Bath water temperature more than 49 degrees (53 cases)
  • Medicine not locked up, medicine not administered like the doctor asked (29 cases)
  • Exits blocked, fire sprinkler problems or fire prevention plan problems (23 cases)
  • Serious incidents not reported to the Ministry (16 cases)
  • Toxic substance storage problems (9 cases)
  • Food safety problems (9 cases)

In the cases of 47 care homes, there were no reports because there were no inspections done in 2012.

Map with links to Inspection reports:

[Use this map to find a personal care home in your community. Click on the home to read all available reports.*]

(*The reports were obtained through a Freedom of Information request by CBC-Radio Canada. Some contents of the reports were redacted by the government, prior to releasing them to CBC-Radio Canada. The map links to data from 193 homes collected in 2012.)

Special Report

The information gathered for this series was done in partnership with our colleagues at Radio-Canada.

The quality of services in personal care homes was of particular concern to the Provincial Auditor for Saskatchewan who found, in a 2012 report, that many homes had missed their annual inspections and, in cases where issues were identified, there was a lack of follow up.

"They should take that information into account," acting auditor Judy Ferguson told CBC News in a recent interview. "Use a risk-based model and inspect those homes more frequently."

Complaints about personal care homes in 2012

128 complaints were received, 50% of them were deemed 'founded'

Pie chart of personal care problems

Here's a breakdown of problems found at Saskatchewan personal care homes in 2012. (CBC)

Saskatchewan's Minister of Health, Dustin Duncan, has said the province plans to publish inspection reports, online, soon.

The reports, however, only tell a part of the story of a personal care home according to those in the know.

Shan Landry, a former vice-president with the Saskatoon Health Region, told CBC News that the reports provide indicators for the relative safety of a home but there are also important questions to ask about the quality of life in a home.

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"Is it a warm, caring facility?" Landry, who currently works as a health care consultant, said. "Is it a place where people feel secure and feel reassured they are getting good care?"

Sometimes, Landry said, small details can play a big role in a resident's happiness.

"Do they make you get up and have breakfast at eight o'clock?"  Landry asked by way of example. "Well if I'm a person who always used to sleep in, or doesn't eat breakfast, then do the rules of the home mean it's too regimented for me?"

Landry advises families to visit a home and check references in addition to looking at inspection reports.

Infographic by Andre Mougeot/CBC