Lacombe continuing care reviews complete

Four staff members were placed on leave while Alberta Health Services investigated issues with infection prevention, cleanliness and medication handling

A more rigorous audit process will be implemented province-wide for publicly-funded continuing care facilities as a result of the serious health care concerns identified at Lacombe Hospital and Care Centre in March.

Four staff members, called leaders, were placed on leave while Alberta Health Services investigated issues with infection prevention, cleanliness, medication handling and training in the long-term care wing of the facility.

Effective June 27, those four staff were no longer working for AHS.

Reviews undertaken by AHS looked at clinical and administrative practices and found a general lack of respect for residents, a culture of dependency on the use of wheelchairs, inappropriate incontinence care, and competency concerns regarding professional practice and care delivery.

Frequent and ongoing audits will continue until AHS and Alberta Health are satisfied the site is meeting standards.

Brenda Huband, vice-president and chief health operations officer for AHS Central and Southern Alberta, said a lot has been learned.

“We really are trying to look at this as an opportunity for improvement. We’ve been able to develop a more robust relationship with families and residents so out of a not so good situation we’ve had some good things happening,” Huband said on Thursday.

In March, Wildrose leaked documents about the Lacombe investigation that showed serious breaches including: expired aseptic sterile supplies like catheters; soiled linen and garbage overflowing into hallways; slings being used communally without a clear, consistent cleaning process; medication left unsecured, unlabelled, unattended; and lack of proper training in medication management and assistance, dementia care, risk management, fall prevention, CPR, palliative/end-of-life care, safe lifts, restraints, and bathing.

The 40-page audit detailed 80 standards breached.

Concerns were initially identified by Red Deer College licensed practical nursing students while training at the facility in March.

An investigation led to thorough health assessments done on all 75 long-term care residents, along with a thorough cleaning of the wing, education sessions for staff, and improved communication between caregivers, residents and families.

Huband said an audit done later in 2016 did not show the concerns found in the April 2017.

The new audit process for continuing care health service standards should be ready for the first part of September, she said.

“The audit would be exactly the same in terms of what we’re auditing and the tools that we are using. But instead of an audit being done by, like the Central Zone, it will now be done by a team that does all of the audits across the province. They won’t be done by a geographic area.

“It’s the tool we’ve used in the past, but it’s the people and how it will be done, and where those people report, that gives its independence and takes away any perception of bias or conflict of interest.”

szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com