Five county nursing homes fail to meet all standards of care

Over half of the nursing homes in Wellington County are failing to meet all the provincial standards for proper care, ac­cording to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

While alarming, that figure may not come as a surprise in light of a recent Canadian Press investigation that revealed up to 75% of Ontario’s 616 nursing homes consistently fail to meet some of the province’s 400 standards of care – a figure that has not changed significantly in the last four years.

As a result, provincial Om­budsman Andre Marin an­noun­ced last week he will be conducting an investigation into long-term care facilities.

He explained the investigation will involve two components – the first being a review of the ministry’s monitoring of the homes to ensure compliance. The second is an examination of whether the imposed standards are unrealistic or trivial to the point they bog down workers in paperwork, thus detracting from patient care – as claimed by many long-term care officials.

Marin is expected to report with his recommendations by Jan­u­ary.

In the meantime, information on the ministry’s website reveals five of eight Wellington County nursing homes did not meet provincial standards dur­ing unannounced annual in­spections held in 2007 and 2008.

The five homes in question are the Caressant Care facilities in Arthur, Fergus, and Har­ris­ton, as well as Morriston Park and Wellington Terrace.

Of those, Caressant Care in Fergus was the only facility to receive an official citation – pertaining to the Residents’ Bill of Rights – under provincial legislation.

It also had the highest level of unmet standards and criteria – 26 in total – and received one verified complaint about the facility’s administration on July 23, 2007. Verified complaints are defined as those found to be true, based on a ministry investigation.

Communications manager Lee Griffi said on Monday the information about all Caressant Care facilities located on the ministry’s website is incorrect because it has not been updated in some time. He said the actual number of un­met criteria in Fergus is eight – six in dietary categories and two in the area of nursing.

Caressant Care in Arthur had 14 unmet standards and cri­teria on the ministry’s website, although Griffi said the actual number is 16 – nine dietary and seven nursing. Griffi noted the dietary incidents were all issues from 2007 and the home has been in compliance in all nine areas for some time, although the ministry has not completed a follow-up inspection and report.

Griffi confirmed the Arthur facility had two verified complaints, both of which stemmed from an issue about a family  being denied visits with a resident during a quarantine.

Caressant Care in Harriston had no verified complaints and three unmet standards on the website. However, Griffi told the Advertiser the most recent inspection shows there are eight unmet criteria – six in dietary categories and two in nursing.

Overall, Griffi said “the common denominator” with all of Caressant Care’s unmet standards is documentation. He said it is important for people to know Caressant Care em­ploy­ees “go above and be­yond” in the care they provide, but according to the ministry, “if it’s not documented it never happened.”

He said personal service providers spend about two and half hours a day completing docu­mentation to ensure homes meet the 400 standards of care – which is a clear indication that most homes are under-staffed.

And although he said the system used by the ministry does provide immediate correctional measures, it remains “very inconsistent” because what one investigator sees as an issue of non-compliance another may not.

Morriston Park, in Puslinch Township did not show any verified complaints, but the facility did have nine unmet standards and criteria. Four of those were in resident care, including proper weight evaluation and monitoring; and one had to do with physical re­straint requirements.

Officials at Morriston Park did not return a call from the Advertiser by press time.

Wellington Terrace in Aboyne, which is run by Wellington County, also had no verified complaints, but three unmet standards and criteria. Those  in­cluded routine care and bath­ing and “altered skin integrity.”

 Administrator Peter Barnes said the unmet standards were from an inspection last year – one of which was related to re-positioning of a patient. He could not recall the details of the other two incidents.

“We’re not perfect,” Barnes said in an interview Tuesday. “If there’s anyone who says they are, I’d like to meet them.”

Barnes explained the Terrace’s non-profit association (all other county nursing hom­es are for-profit facilities) has stated for some time the amount of required documentation compromises bedside care.

He said he hopes Marin’s investigation supports his belief – that eith­er the requirements have to be softened or more funding provided to allow homes to complete documentation as well as provide adequate care.

“In our case the residents’ families are happy with the level of care we provide, and the residents themselves are also happy,” he said.

Barnes said the Canadian Press article that brought the issue to the forefront will cause unnecessary stress for both residents and their family members.

“It’s just not fair to make blanket statements like [that],” he said of the article.

The other three Wellington County nursing homes listed on the ministry’s website – Eden House in Guelph-Era­mosa, Royal Terrace in Pal­merston,  and Saugeen Valley in Mount Forest – showed zero unmet standards and criteria and zero citations under legislation, as well as no verified complaints.

People with concerns or complaints about long-term care facilities can call the province’s Action Line at 1-866-434-0144.

For detailed nursing home reports, which also must be posted at each individual long-term care facility, visit