The Pines nursing home in Burns Lake fared better in some areas compared to the provincial averages for licensing infractions at long-term care facilities. (Blair McBride photo)

Northern Health leads B.C. in licencing infractions for long-term care facilities

The health region also leads the Province with a 100 per cent substantiated complaint rate

When it comes to licensing infractions, Northern Health (NH) is leading the way.

In 2019 the healthcare provider had 41 total facility inspections with 142 licensing infractions for an overall rate of 119.6 infractions per 1,000 beds.

It’s a rate 278 per cent higher than any other health region in the Province, with Interior Health coming in a distant second at 43 infractions per 1,000 beds.

Provincially, it’s 311 per cent higher than B.C.’s average of 38.4 infractions.

READ MORE: Indigenous health care a major topic for Northern Health

The findings come from the Office of the Seniors Advocate (OSA) Quick Facts Directory (QFD), an annual report that provides information on all publicly funded long-term care homes in British Columbia.

In Burns Lake, The Pines nursing home performs better than the provincial averages in some areas, according to the QFD.

The Quick Facts report for October 2019 lists zero incidents in 2018/2019 for such problems as “abuse/neglect”, “food or other poisoning”, “medication error with adverse event” and “missing or wandering person.”

There was one occurrence of “disease outbreak” and one of “fall with injury/adverse event.” With the latter, it was below the provincial average of 9.2 incidents per 100 beds in care facilities.

Long-term care facilities in B.C. are regulated and licensed under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act or the Hospital Act, regardless of funding. The Health Authority Community Care Facility Licensing programs issue licences and conduct inspections to ensure facilities are providing safe care to residents.

While licensing infractions can refer to any number of things contrary to those acts, the most common infractions across the province related to care and supervision (21 per cent), records and reporting (19 per cent), the physical environment (19 per cent), and staffing (13 per cent).

The Pines had two with records and reporting and one with medication, though no details were given.

The OSA provides a survey of residents’ responses and the most recent one available was conducted between June 2016 and May 2017. For The Pines, 17 per cent of respondents said the overall quality of care and services was “excellent”, 44 per cent said they were “very good”, 17 per cent said they were “good” and “fair” and 6 per cent said they were “poor.” All were higher than the B.C. averages.

Under “would recommend this care home to others” 7 per cent of Pines respondents said they “always”, 64 per cent said “most of the time” and 14 per cent said “rarely” and “never”.

The Pines fared worse in that area compared to the B.C. average which listed 43 per cent for “always”, 34 per cent for “most of the time”, 13 per cent for “sometimes”, 4 per cent for “rarely” and 6 per cent for “never.”

Under “want to live in this care home” half responded “yes” and half “no.” The B.C. average is 61 per cent for “yes” and 39 per cent for “no.”

NH also led the province in substantiated complaint rates, with 100 per cent of its five complaints made and reviewed by its licensing offices being deemed substantiated.

This is, again, just under three times higher than the provincial average of 36 per cent.

The report also notes NH does not report complaints for facilities licensed under the Hospital Act.

In an email to Black Press Media, NH spokesperson Eryn Collins said the healthcare provider is committed to continually improving the care it provides seniors.

“Northern Health’s focus is on improving supports in the community to support seniors in remaining independent as long as possible, as our seniors are clear they want to age in place/live in their homes with support. These supports are aimed at keeping seniors in their home environments as long as possible, or in other accessible living environments, potentially including long term care.”

Collins added that NH’s smaller number of long-term care facilities, and smaller facilities due to geography and population can make the ‘complaints per thousand beds’ for the region appear disproportionately high.

She said that, interpreted another way, NH facilities average approximately 3.3 infractions per inspection — comparable to that of other health regions.

“That said, and as the OSA report indicates, many infractions can be directly linked to staffing challenges, which the North has had and continues to experience. Northern Health has developed a robust Human Resource Plan to support recruitment to current vacancies and new positions in long-term care. We are also working closely with the Ministry of Health with respect to recruitment and retention of staff in long-term care settings, such as care aides.”

“It’s also very important to note that this data reflects only complaints to licensing; there are many other channels through which concerns can be raised.”

READ MORE: Northern Health investigates racist posts of possible employee

While the healthcare provider might not have fared so well in some areas, in others it did quite well.

NH only had 105 reportable incidents from 2018-2019, a rate of 8.8 reportable incidents per 100 beds.

That’s just over half the provincial average of 15.8, however it’s down from a rate of 16.2 for 2017-2018.

The health region also leads the pack in terms of meeting provincial guidelines for direct care hours (DCH), with 100 per cent of long-term care facilities in the region meeting requirements.

DCH refer to hours of direct care between patients and nursing staff, care aides, or allied health care workers, such as physical, occupational or recreational therapists, speech language pathologists, social workers and dietitians. Guidelines set by the Ministry of Health state residents in long-term facilities should receive 3.36 DCH daily.

At 3.47 DCH, NH was the only region to achieve or exceed those recommendations. The provincial average was 3.25 DCH per long-term care facility.

– with files from Blair McBride

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