Owners of B.C. care home in damage control after 94-year-old left with bed bugs for days

Ontario-based Sienna Living holds meeting with residents to discuss whistleblower video

The Ontario-based corporate owners of a Chilliwack seniors home are in damage control and are in town investigating after an exposé uncovered a 94-year-old blind woman was left in a bed-bug infested room for days on end.

Rita Bedford was the focus of a CBC Go Public story from Nov. 3 that stemmed from distraught employees of The Cascades filming the bed bugs on the elderly woman’s mattress.

The bed bug incident dates back to December 2018, but the story spurred other employees, residents and relatives of residents to express concern about care at the home, and the company’s response.

Representatives for Sienna Living came to The Cascades on Nov. 5 to hold a meeting with residents and family members.

Esther Esau’s mother lives at The Cascades and she addressed the company owners with strong words about the billion-dollar company that runs dozens of senior living homes across Canada.

• RELATED: B.C. introduces more efficient waitlists, choices for seniors care homes

• RELATED: B.C. senior care improving, but most far below staffing target

Given that many of the residents suffer from serious health conditions, and many have dementia, Esau expressed concern that complaints about care at the home had to be leaked to the media by anonymous employees.

“The employees that work here are the eyes and ears and voices for the vulnerable tenants who may be blind, deaf or have dementia and so it is of most importance that employees have the right and freedom to make it their duty to report any complaint and not have the threat of losing their jobs if they do so,” Esau said at the meeting.

In response to questions about changes, Sienna Living director of communications Natalie Gokchenian issued a statement to The Progress.

“In response to the CBC Go Public piece, I can confirm that representatives from our team were at The Cascades [Nov. 5] to commence an investigation into the allegations that were new to us regarding transparency, accountability and openness within the team,” Gokchenian said via email. “We are deeply disturbed by these allegations and wanted to immediately investigate to ensure our core values were being reflected in our day-to-day operations.”

A resident of The Cascades who spoke to The Progress, but did not want his name used, said he sometimes eats with the 94-year-old Bedford and has to help her because they are currently using plastic cutlery and paper plates.

Esau, too, pointed to the dining situation because of an apparent sewage pipe leak that has affected all dining at the facility for weeks.

“The plastic cutlery and paper plates are being used temporarily because the kitchen is being repaired,” Gokchenian explained. “During this temporary interruption in the meal service, plastic and paper cutlery is being used for sanitary purposes and we anticipate full service to resume sometime late next week.”

Esau said after she spoke at the meeting, she was told by Lisa Kelly, the regional vice-president for long-term care for Sienna Living, that she would be in town for a couple of days to give employees a chance to come forward with information about operations at the facility.

”Hopefully Sienna will be able to resolve this issue and prevent any more neglect and abuse,” Esau wrote in an email.

Asked about inspections at the facility, a spokesperson for Fraser Health explained that assisted living sites are not licensed by Fraser Health but are done so through the Ministry of Health via the assisted living registry. The Ministry is responsible for inspection.

Fraser Health funds The Cascades for healthcare services only, and bed bugs are not a health issue.

“While a considerable nuisance, bed bugs are not considered a health concern and there’s no evidence they spread disease to people,” according to senior public affairs consultant Tasleem Juma. “However, there is the possibility of secondary infection if bites are scratched.

“We investigate all healthcare-related complaints and if they are substantiated, we work closely with the site to resolve the concern and ensure they are in compliance with the requirements of the contract we have with them.”

Sienna Living said the company continues to work with Fraser Health and the Ministry of Health to ensure safety and quality standards are met.

“The Cascades Lodge and Manor is well respected in the Chilliwack community and I am delighted to share that The Cascades has an Exemplary rating by Accreditation Canada and quality indicators are consistent with the provincial average in B.C.,” Gokchenian said. “Our recent resident satisfaction survey had a 97 per cent response rate from residents at The Cascades who rated the care at the residence higher than in past years with an increase in resident satisfaction.”


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North District RCMP see massive spike in domestic calls

Connection to COVID-19 pandemic likely for reduced call volume, increased severity

Northwest mines lengthen crew rotations in response to COVID-19

Northern Health confident precautions sufficient enough to keep work camps open

Feds and Chamber of Commerce team up to support businesses

PRDCC is offering weekly conference calls to business in Prince Rupert

Fire on Third Ave. in Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert Fire Rescue crew attended the hotel

Fisheries and Oceans Canada lifts at-sea observer requirements due to COVID-19

Fisheries Management Order went into effect April 2 and will remain for 45 days

Here’s how to talk to people who aren’t taking physical distancing seriously

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Most Read