Orchard Villa long beset by problems, families say after military report on care homes
Homes run for profit should be a thing of the past, family members say
Family members who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 say a Canadian military report on five long-term care homes in Ontario confirms what they already know about one such home because the facility had constant problems.
People whose parents have died at Orchard Villa in Pickering, Ont., where 77 patients have died as of Monday, say they believe there are more homes that should be investigated.
They also say families should go straight to the long-term care ministry with their complaints. And anyone with loved ones in such troubled homes should relocate them immediately.
"Get them out. Get them out as soon as possible. If you want to see the summer with them, get them out. Don't leave them in there. Why would you leave them in there?" said June Morrison, who lost her father George William Morrison, 95, three weeks ago at Orchard Villa.
Homes run for profit should be a thing of the past, they say. And the staff shortages, abuse and neglect led to suffering of loved ones, they allege.
The report includes a stunning list of allegations that the military says may have contributed to large COVID-19 outbreaks experienced at each of the homes.
Canadian Armed Forces members, who have been providing assistance at the homes since April 28, say they have observed numerous forms of unhygienic and dangerous behaviour.
The report notes there was a lack of cleanliness at Orchard Villa, with cockroaches and flies present, a rotten food smell in a hallway near a resident's room, and many old food trays stacked inside a bedside table.
Morrison said the report is not surprising. But details about cockroaches in the care home are "very disturbing," she said. Her father, born in Scotland in 1924, was a resident at Orchard Villa for two and a half years.
His death was due to neglect and breach of contract, she said.
'Confirmation of everything that we have known'
"We have been speaking about the lack of staff to be able to cook food and serve food. This is a confirmation of everything that we have known," Morrison told reporters.
"The lack of cleanliness and hygiene, we knew to expect that," she said. "We were talking about that weeks ago."
Morrison said she would have taken her father out of the home if she had the chance, funding and support. "He could have survived had he not been in there. He could have survived," she said.
"I think there's criminal act. The police investigation, once they actually go in there and see what's actually going on and do those interviews, yes, I think you're going to get a criminal element, definitely, on the hands of management and admin."
Cathy Parkes, whose father Paul William Russell Parkes died last month in Orchard Villa, said there were always issues at the home. Her father was there for just over five months before he contracted COVID-19.
Some details shocking, daughter of resident says
"I truly believe, knowing my father as well as I do, that he actually suffered severe dehydration which led to his death," she said. "I think he suffered probably four or five days before he died, which is really upsetting to me."
Parkes said she is pleased that the report was done but some of the details are shocking. When staff are not wearing personal protective equipment and not sitting people up properly to feed them, that is completely unacceptable, she said.
In his first month, there was an incident in which a staff person abused her father and an incident report was filed.
"Every month after that, there was something, sometimes minor, sometimes a little bit bigger. There were a couple of days were he hadn't been fed and he called me complaining about hunger," Parkes said.
"There were times when I came in and he was half dressed."
Choking incident appeared to have contributed to death
Four other homes featured in the report are Altamont Care Community in Toronto, Eatonville Care Centre in Toronto, Hawthorne Place in Toronto and Holland Christian Homes' Grace Manor in Brampton.
According to the report, problems at Orchard Villa include:
- Residents being left in beds in soiled diapers.
- Staff failing to sit residents up to feed and give them medication and one choking incident that appeared to have contributed to a resident's death.
- "Unsafe nursing medication administration errors."
- Staff putting belongings of residents out of their reach.
- A likely fractured hip not addressed by staff.
- Some residents sleeping on bare mattresses because of a lack of supplies.
- A lack of training for new staff. "Nursing staff unsure where or how to document status changes, how to change medications, where order sets are located; where supplies are located."
"Respecting dignity of patients not always a priority. Caregiver burnout noted among staff," the report reads.
Lakeridge Health, the hospital system in Durham Region that sent support personnel to assist staff at Orchard Villa, reacted to the report Tuesday evening, saying it "took immediate actions to begin to manage" the outbreak at the home, including deep cleaning and adding more front-line personnel.
Premier not ruling out public inquiry
Ontario Premier Doug Ford called it "the most heart-wrenching report I have ever read in my entire life."
After reading the report, Ford said it's clear the system is broken. He said he is now not ruling out a public inquiry, which he had previously declined.
Ontario has launched a "full investigation" into the allegations and will share the results with police so they can look into any possible criminal charges, Ford said.
With files from Natalie Nanowski, David Common, Muriel Draaisma, The Canadian Press