Lighthouse explains how woman's death went unnoticed for more than a day

The head of frontline services at The Lighthouse in Saskatoon is explaining how it was possible for the death of a woman living in one of the non-profit's units to go unnoticed for at least a day.

Apartment unit she lived in was much like other rentals in the city

The independent living tower at The Lighthouse was built in 2014. (Albert Couillard/CBC News)

The head of frontline services at The Lighthouse in Saskatoon says a recent incident where a woman was dead more than a day before being found is a product of the independence afforded residents of the building she was living in.

Chris Randall said that although the last confirmed sighting of the woman found dead Tuesday was at the end of July, she is not believed to have died that long ago.

Randall said the maintenance staff member who found the body estimated it had been there for a day or two, but that the coroner's office has not yet confirmed how long it's been. Saskatoon police say they responded to the call from The Lighthouse and do not consider the death suspicious.

The Lighthouse offers emergency shelter, which it is best known for, but also has two housing units: a five-storey supported housing unit where case managers check in on residents daily and a separate independent living tower where residents are checked on once a month.

The woman had been a longtime resident living in the independent living apartments, which were built in 2012.

Since her death, Randall said people have questioned why there are not more checks to make sure people are safe.

He compared those units to affordable living apartments elsewhere in the city. People living there may have lived elsewhere in the city or done well in supported living.

"They're looking to live independently and have made that choice and obviously we honour and recognize people's ability to make choices on how to live," he said.

He said security who works elsewhere at The Lighthouse checks the common areas at the independent units three times a day.

Still, the death has shaken the staff who check in on the apartments to ask residents if they need any maintenance done, Randall said.

They are considering checking in on clients on a more regular basis, but haven't made any concrete plans yet.

"We would look to see what ways we could be more aware and more connected to clients," Randall said.

He had met the woman who died several times.

"All of our clients at the Lighthouse are like family," Randall said.

"They were well-supported and well-loved and well-liked around The Lighthouse... Definitely our staff will feel their loss and they'll definitely be missed."

Randall acknowledged that the woman's death is traumatic for some at The Lighthouse, and said they've done follow-ups this week with the staff who discovered the body.

He said counselling plans are available for staff who feels they need it.