Serious care concerns found at Lacombe long-term care facility

Identified by Red Deer College students while training at site

Three staff members called leaders were placed on leave at Lacombe Hospital and Care Centre while Alberta Health Services recently investigated serious concerns about infection prevention, cleanliness, medication handling and training in the long-term care wing of the facility.

“The investigations are not completely in front of me but at this point from the assessment we’ve done from a nursing point of view, … , it does not appear that there has been any harm done to residents,” said Brenda Huband, vice-president and chief health operations officer for AHS Central and Southern Alberta, on Wednesday.

She said thorough health assessments were done on all 75 long-term care residents, and a final report on the investigation will hopefully be available next week.

On Tuesday, Wildrose leaked documents about the 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, unlabeled, 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.

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

Wildrose MLA Ron Orr said an AHS bureaucrat gave Wildrose a 40-page audit detailing 80 standards that were breached at the Lacombe facility.

“The audit is shocking enough that somebody in the bureaucracy of Alberta Health Services felt it shouldn’t just be dealt with quietly, internally. That people out there had a right to know and it should be made public and that’s why it was obviously delivered to our office,” said the Lacombe–Ponoka MLA.

“Our questions are how did it get to this state in the first place.”

And why did it take students to identify the problems, he asked.

“There have been whispers and rumours of people that were unhappy, residents or families, for a long time. But you can’t jump all over every complaint you hear until you have some solid evidence and that’s why we’ve dealt with this now,” Orr said.

Huband said the concerns were taken very seriously and AHS responded quickly with an investigation and audit with support from Alberta Health.

“We are very thankful for the practical nurses and the college for their very responsible, professional approach to this and for raising a concern that could potentially impact residents. They have very much been a partner in this and very pleased that they brought this concern to our attention,” Huband said.

Other actions taken by AHS to address the concerns include: physiotherapy and falls risk assessments on all 75 residents; a thorough cleaning of the site of all resident care areas, medication rooms and carts, and tub rooms with support and guidance from infection prevention and control professionals; improved communication between caregivers and residents and families, and between caregivers; the introduction of education sessions for all staff continuing care health service and accommodation standards; and work to introduce a resident and family council to meet regularly to ensure high quality care.

In addition to the 75 continuing care beds, Lacombe Hospital and Care Centre also has 30 acute care beds.

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