Anglican Samizdat

October 26, 2009

Northridge long-term care home and its lack of care

Filed under: Care for the elderly — David Jenkins @ 3:37 pm

I have chronicled the tribulations experienced by my father-in-law in an Oakville nursing home in an earlier post.

After the episodes I described there and numerous complaints, things seemed to improve – until last week when he was diagnosed with pneumonia.

The nursing supervisor – I’ll call her “Angela”, mainly because that’s her real name – informed us that John had not been taking his Tylenol to reduce his fever or his antibiotics to heal the pneumonia. The question and answer session then went something like this:

Us: Can you find some other way to give John his medicine – how about a suppository?

Angela: No we don’t do that – you would have to hire a private nurse. (when I asked if that was really the answer, Angela said “no” she was just “messing with our heads”).

Us: He has mouth sores – that is why he won’t drink. Can you wash his mouth with a salt solution?

Angela: we don’t do that.

Us: He looks dehydrated; can you put him on a drip to re-hydrate him?

Angela: we don’t have the staff to do that.

Us: This is a nursing home, isn’t it? What do you advise, should we call an ambulance and have him taken to hospital?

Angela: He’s a level 3: you have to decide.

Us: well can you phone the doctor on call so we can ask him?

Angela: No, I can only call the doctor if John is injured or if he falls out of bed [!]. He is quite comfortable; you can leave him until Monday if you like and the doctor can look at him then.

After a lot more arguing the doctor was called and he advised us to call an ambulance at once. The immediate reaction of the paramedics was disbelief that the nursing home hadn’t found some way to administer the medicine that John needed.

John has been in the hospital for a day and a night now and the doctor told us that he was severely dehydrated; I have a suspicion that, had we left him in the nursing home overnight, he would have been neglected and could have died from dehydration – which makes me wonder how many others have suffered this fate.

This is a photo of John taken before the ambulance arrived; he used to be fairly rotund  – here he looks more like a concentration camp survivor:

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Northridge is a Revera company which has as its banner headline, ‘Enhancing Lives’. Whose other than the shareholders, I wonder?



  1. Some are worse than slum Lords with a whiff of the Third Reich death camps about them.
    We home nursed my mother-in law for four years after she was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimers. We only used hospice care twice for vacation in the first year. The first time she returned with a broken nose and the second we retrieved her from the hosptal after they has mis-medicated her. After that, we took mom with us even on vacation. Mom may not have known where she was, but she knew she was cared for. She ended up dying in her own bed.
    Praise God.

    Comment by Jim Muirhead — October 26, 2009 @ 4:24 pm

  2. Register a formal complaint with the company, the RNAO, the CNA and with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Also, you may want to consider moving your dad to another facility. If you happen to know a nurse, bring her along to vet any new locations – she may be able to spot things untrained eyes might miss. Keep pestering whoever you need to get appropriate care for him!

    Comment by NLees — October 26, 2009 @ 7:07 pm

  3. If you can stomach it, you might want to consider trying to get local media involved, too. Sometimes bad publicity is the only thing that works.

    Comment by Kate — October 26, 2009 @ 8:52 pm

  4. After re-reading my original post I feel the need to explain that our family was in the wonderful position of having my sister-in-law (the saint) able to take care of mom during the day. That allowed the rest of the family to cover off hours and weekends.
    Everyone wants the very best for their folks and I recognize what a great blessing it is to be able to home care for them.

    Comment by Jim Muirhead — October 26, 2009 @ 10:41 pm

  5. Jim

    With the level of care dad needs this would be impossible.

    Comment by Share — October 27, 2009 @ 4:15 pm

  6. Share,
    Our prayers are with you and your family.

    Comment by Jim Muirhead — October 27, 2009 @ 10:52 pm

  7. I agree with the formal complaint process and the media involvement. What you have described is disgusting incompetance and I would be terrified to leave a loved one in that sort of situation. I know how hard it is to look after the aged. But when you are let down by “professionals” where do you turn?

    Raise hell. Your father in law deserves the care. Are you sure they weren’t involved in “euthenizing” him? And you happened to visit at an inconvenient time?

    I’ve noted that the people in hospital who get the best care are those who have family members advocating for them. All of a sudden medical staff have someone real they are accountable to… Sad how people are valued these days…or not valued should we say. Make sure your definition of quality of life and value of life is understood by your father in law’s care providers.

    Comment by Sam — October 28, 2009 @ 2:10 pm

  8. How different from the East Kent nursing home in which my Father-in-Law spent his last few months. It is difficult to think how the care from the home’s staff could have been better. The point I would like to make is that it is possible for a profit-making company to run nursing homes in which patients are treated competently, with compassion and dignity. Where this is not so, something is badly wrong, so good for you, David, for kicking up a fuss.

    Comment by Ian — October 29, 2009 @ 8:26 am

  9. A brief update on what has happened since I first wrote this: John has responded well to the hospital treatment – which is actually no different from what should really have been done in the nursing home – and is now eating, chatting and even making jokes. He probably will be discharged in the next few days and will return to Northridge – it is almost impossible to find a bed elsewhere in such a short time. The hospital discharge nurse has talked to Northridge and alerted them to the fact that they must provide an IV drip for John. The hospital staff have been consistently caring and helpful.

    Formal complaints have gone to the Northridge administration and are on their way to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term care and the Ontario Collage of Nurses; coincidentally Angela has been off work “sick” for the last 3 days. Also, a care conference will be held with Northridge next week.

    Northridge are now in cover-our-rear-end mode; we suspect that there has even been a falsification of John’s medical records.

    Comment by David — October 29, 2009 @ 9:43 am

  10. Dying by choice should be allowed.

    Comment by Jackie — November 11, 2009 @ 10:51 am

  11. Jackie – and how do you know a person who can’t speak is choosing that? Once John was re-hydrated and properly looked after in hospital, he was joking and interested in what was going on. And after he could speak, he expressed no interest in dying.

    Many people who can’t look after themselves would feel like dying if they were neglected.

    Comment by David — November 11, 2009 @ 11:44 am

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