Nova Scotia

'It's disgusting': Senior's severe injuries result of nursing home neglect, says daughter

The daughter of a 95-year old woman who was found bloodied and bruised in a nursing home room says her mother's wounds are unacceptable.

WARNING: This story contains graphic images

This is MacDougall before her injuries last week. (Submitted by Lois Foster)

The daughter of a 95-year-old Nova Scotia woman found bloodied and bruised in her nursing home room said her mother's wounds are unacceptable.

Lois Foster has filed complaints with the police and the province over her mother's injuries, which she says are the result of a lack of care.

"It's disgusting, unnecessary negligence," said Foster.

Foster says she received a call on March 18 that her mother, Kathleen MacDougall, had fallen.

"When I went over to the home, the ambulance attendant told me to brace myself," she said.

Foster, a nurse herself, was shocked.

"She had bruises on both arms, both shoulders, her legs, the skin ripped off her arm, her face on both cheeks, all down her neck," said Foster. "She had the worst facial appearance that I've seen in any of my clients in my 35 years of nursing."

MacDougall was injured while living at Harbourstone Enhanced Care nursing home in Sydney, N.S. (Submitted by Lois Foster)

MacDougall has dementia. Foster said she was told her mother had been checked every half-hour. But Foster said she finds that hard to believe, due to the severity of her mother's wounds.

"It seemed quite evident that she had been banging around for quite a while," said Foster.

MacDougall has lived at the Harbourstone Enhanced Care nursing home in Sydney, N.S., since 2013. Harbourstone is one of 34 seniors facilities owned by Shannex in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario.

Foster said her mother's room is at the end of a hall and she worries that her mother wasn't heard if she called for help.

Foster says her 95-year-old mother's injuries are a result of neglect she suffered while in her Sydney nursing home. (Norma Jean MacPhee/CBC)

She said she's asked to have the nursing home's surveillance camera footage reviewed.

"They couldn't have been caring for her to have her look like this," said Foster. "That's not care. They have a duty of care, and there's there's no way even a half-hour check could end up with her looking like that."

A Shannex spokesperson declined an interview but said in an email to CBC News that the company has "robust practices to mitigate resident falls in nursing homes, but even with this diligence, it is not always possible to prevent falls 100 per cent of the time."

Shannex said it would not speak about a specific case, citing privacy.

Complaints registered

Police confirmed a complaint has been made about the incident. Foster said she also filed a complaint with the provincial health ministry under the Protection for Persons in Care Act.

Robert Lafferty, manager of investigative compliance for the act, said the ministry received approximately 400 complaints in 2017. Staff respond to inquiries within 24 hours and, depending on the case, determine whether further investigation is warranted.

Robert Lafferty says the Health Department received approximately 400 complaints under the province's Protection of Persons in Care Act in 2017. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Lafferty said it can be difficult to determine exactly what happened within a senior's room. He couldn't speak about specific cases but said when there is an allegation of a fall, his department checks to see if a facility meets the provincial requirements.

"Do they have proper falls risk assessments in place?" said Lafferty. "Do they have sufficient documentation to support that checks and balances have been taken care of in the organization?"

MacDougall's legs were seriously bruised. (Submitted by Lois Foster)

Proving an allegation is not easy, he said.

"Any case is difficult. And that's why we look at those collateral sources, the documentation, [to determine if] these incidents may be occurring."

Lafferty said an investigation could take months. At the conclusion, Lafferty's department will issue directives to the facility in question outlining how to improve quality of care if warranted.

MacDougall's condition improving

MacDougall is still in hospital, but Foster said her mother is improving.

She said she wants to see changes implemented so that other families won't experience similar issues.

"They need more staff, they need more trained staff, and they need to individualize their care," said Foster.

Foster said concern for her own mother as well as others compelled her to speak out.

"I also thought it was a responsibility of mine as a nurse," she said. "I can't sit back and let this happen to another person. It isn't right. Something must be done."


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