Nursing home hidden camera investigation: Understaffed and overworked

Nursing home hidden camera investigation: Understaffed and overworked


Announcer: -[ David ] This is
your Marketplace. Families on a mission… This needs to change,
it is totally unacceptable. -[ David ] ..to uncover
the truth. Nobody was there to help her. -[ David ] And, we get
hired to see what it’s really like inside. Are staff set up to fail? I would not want to be the
one in the bed in the state that long-term care is in right now. Minister Elliottt,
I’m David with CBC. How do you address
the concerns that these front-line
workers have? We take their
concerns very seriously. -[ David ] A special
edition of your Marketplace. How to fight for better care. [ ♪♪ ] [ Moaning ] -[ David ] Listen carefully. [ Moaning ] -[ David ] The call for help
is faint, but desperate. [ Moaning ] -[ David ] In the darkness
at this long-term care home an 84-year-old grandmother
struggles to breathe. [ Faint Moaning ] -[ David ] At home, her daughter
Marie had been told staff were checking her mom
throughout the night. [ Faint Moaning ] -[ David ] The breathing gets
weaker, and then stops. She’s gone. Nobody there to help her. She died alone, struggling. Nobody was there. And you’re left wondering
if they could have saved her. I think they could have. [ Crying Out ] -[ David ] For years
we’ve heard your concerns. What happens to our parents
and grandparents when we are not there? Are there enough
staff to keep them safe? To find out, we are going
deep inside long-term care. -[ David ] Sending a Marketplace
producer to volunteer, spending more than 60 hours
undercover at Markhaven. The same home where
Marie’s mother died. Okay. -[ David ] We are taking care
to respect residents’ privacy, focusing on common areas. It does not take long
to see staff who try– [ Polka Music Playing ] -[ David ] –but are simply
outnumbered. -[ David ] Elderly residents
waiting for help to use the toilet. -[ David ] Staff just trying to
keep up, racing from person to person. -[ David ] This is one home,
but we are hearing similar stories nationwide. Our undercover producer is– you
see her roaming the hallways, trying to find someone
who is just available to help with this.
-That is normal, absolutely. -[ David ] Miranda Ferrier
represents more than 30,000 personal support workers,
or PSWs in Ontario. How do you use the word
normal to describe someone waiting for more than an hour to
go to the washroom and there not being someone to help them? It’s been accepted
as the norm. Should it be? Absolutely not, it should
not be accepted as the norm. -[ David ] Unanswered
call bells… [ Rhythmic Beeping ] -[ David ] Barely time
for the basics. -[ David ] By one estimate,
Ontario staff only get six minutes to get each
increasingly frail resident out of bed, dressed,
and down for breakfast. I’m going to wheel you up, Gary. -[ David ] Staff who
want to do better, but there just is not time. A lot of the times
in long-term care, nine times out of ten,
you are skipping steps. Whereas– that might be,
that day you don’t wash under their armpits and you don’t
wash their nether regions, or, you know, you don’t
change their incontinence product real quick because
it’s not that wet yet, because you don’t have the time. -So you just let them sit in it?
-So let– You let them sit
in it until it’s full. Because you don’t
have the time. -[ David ] It’s not just
a problem at one home. A year ago at another Ontario
home we caught this conversation on hidden camera. -[ David ] These PSWs
are talking to a government inspector. She is powerless because there
is no minimum staffing ratio for nursing homes. -[ David ] And when
there aren’t enough staff, the worst becomes possible. You are a daughter and you are
listening to what sounds like her final breaths.
-Breaths, yep. Not easy to take. -Sorry.
-No, no. I wasn’t there to help her. Nobody was there to help her. I think that’s the
biggest part of it. -[ David ] Giovanna’s death
happened right after the home’s funding was cut by the
province, forcing it to lay off a night nurse. Marie’s mother died alone,
in a home where staff seemed always stretched
and at night, numbers dropped. Sometimes, just one PSW
for a wing of 27 residents. She loved to be
with her grandkids. She laughed a lot. She told a lot of funny stories. Fake stories to my kids. She’d get them going. She was really funny, she
had a good sense of humour. A really good sense of humour. -[ David ] Worried for months
about her mother’s care, Marie decides to install a
hidden camera in her room. I wasn’t going to be
able to see her a lot. In the month of May,
I had eye surgery. -[ David ] Giovanna needed
a tracheostomy to breathe, a tube bringing
air to her throat. In case of a problem, the
home’s own care plan demanded a call bell within reach. Whenever she wasn’t well she
always held onto that call bell to get help. -[ David ] On the night
she died, though, Marie wonders,
were staff too busy to check? Too overloaded to notice
the gasp for help? Mom was gone. And I believe, in all hearts,
that the cause of her death was due to lack
of experience. Staffing not knowing
what they are doing. Training. Not enough staff. What do you want
the ministry to change? There should be legislation
that has to have more people to take care of our loved
ones, more nursing staff, more PSWs on the floor. -[ David ] We showed the
video to Miranda and together we notice something alarming. She was seemingly partially out
of the bed trying to reach here. Oh, my God,
where the call bell was. They left the call
bell on the chair. They left the call
bell on the chair. Ah, sorry. -[ David ] That call bell, the
one required to be in the bed with Giovanna. Even as she struggled,
she couldn’t reach it. No one should have
to suffer like that. And I mean, the problem is
that they are all suffering like this. -[ David ] Suffering that Marie
did not know about until months later when she
watched the video. Staff were supposed to check on
Giovanna throughout the night but no one did until morning. If she was able to get help,
the morning that she passed, she would have
probably been alive. -[ David ] Workers discover
her body half out of bed. Marie believes she was
trying to reach that call bell, the one that
might have saved her. This is them moving her body. If her feet were down dangling,
she was trying to get help. She was trying to get up. And get to her bell. -To get help.
-To get help. -[ David ] For two years
we have been investigating long-term care homes in Ontario. Now, we are deep undercover
in one home, spending days inside, hearing the consequences
of short staffing. -[ David ] We have heard the
same story from across Canada, including here in
Hare Bay, Newfoundland… ..where Sharon Goulding-Collins
has a plan to fight for elderly residents like her mother,
who has dementia and lives in a nursing home
45 minutes away. Hi, Mom. Hi, Mom. What are you doing? Mom, Mom. Are you going to have a nap? Are you going to have a nap? -Hi, Sharon.
-Hi. [ Mother Chattering ] -[ David ] Sharon is now a
stranger to the woman who spends her days calling
for her own parents. Yeah. [ ♪♪ ] It is amazing,
she is just so strong. And then for this to happen? -[ David ] There have never
been more dementia residents, like Lillian, in long-term care. A growing number with very
high needs and unpredictability. Sometimes other dementia
patients become aggressive, and there have been altercations
that have left Lillian bruised, no staff there to help. There are so many other
things that have happened that nobody’s seen. Like the bruises on her
from here to here. Like the scratches and
cuts on her face. Like being punched
in the mouth. But there was nobody
there when it happened? There was nobody there. -Nobody there to stop it.
-Nobody. -[ David ] Sharon is usually at
home when she hears about a new injury. An attack from a
fellow dementia resident. This can’t go on. This is an 82-year-old
woman who is getting beaten up. Um… And the response was–
and it was not the first time, “I’m sorry but we can’t be
everywhere all the time.” Why do you think that is? Why can’t they be there
when their residents are being attacked by others? Because there’s
not enough staff. There’s only so
much that they can do. -[ David ] Even though the
regional health authority says they are fully staffed, they
acknowledge dementia patients can be combative. So there are
safety plans in place. 300 kilometres away in
St. John’s, Heather Reardon faces that on every shift. -Hi, Heather?
-Hi. Yeah, I’m David. On the night shift when staff
numbers drop she’s the only registered nurse in
charge of 140 patients. I wish I could split myself
in half because I could be needed upstairs because
someone has had a fall, or I could have somebody in
respiratory distress down on another unit, and
both are unstable, and both need a
registered nurse, but there’s only one of me. The quality of
care is not there. Simple day-to-day
things are not getting done. They might only have time– they
may have to leave them in bed. They may be left in bed the full
shift rather then being up for several hours because we do not
physically have the manpower. Fast-forward your own
life 50 or 60 years, would you want to be in a
long-term care facility, the kind that you
work in right now? In the state it is now?
Absolutely not. I would not want to be
the one in a bed in the state that long-term
care is in now. -[ David ] If nurses
say they are stretched, imagine personal support
workers, the front line staff. Those who wash,
care, feed, lift, and keep safe
the elderly. Undercover, we are seeing it
and hearing PSWs so burnt out, they are quitting. -[ David ] It is not just the
stress that is wearing on staff across the country. They are often on the
receiving end of violence. It’s hard to make out but you
can see down the hallway that a resident is kicking one
of the staff members. -[ Miranda ] Mmm-hmm. -[ David ] How often do you
hear about violent incidents against staff? -[ Miranda ] Every single day. So much so, that it’s
actually become the norm. -[ David ] The violence
against staff is the norm. Yeah. Why would you
want to work there? My point exactly. That’s why we’re short-staffed,
that’s why the PSW profession is not necessarily one that people
are lining up to get into. It’s because, you know–
the really sad thing, David, is when you sit with PSWs
or in a room full of them, and I am many times with my
members, and they will say, well, who got scratched today?
And it’s a joke. Or who got bit today, you know? -[ David ] For its part,
Markhaven did not want to do an interview but tells
us they provide a “safe and comfortable
working environment.” They agree that more staff are
needed and say they provide the best care possible
with the money they get from the government. [ ♪♪ ] -[ David ] Back in Hare Bay,
Sharon is fighting for change. Angered by her
mother’s injuries, and no one being
around to stop them. This needs to change,
it’s totally unacceptable. So, that’s when
I created the group. The Facebook group. -[ David ] Her online community
now has about 5,000 members from across Canada calling
for legislative action, a campaign Sharon
names after her mother. What is it that Lillian’s Law,
what you are proposing, is calling for? The initial
thing is the ratio. As there is a law for daycare,
where you have a ratio of caregivers to children,
we want the same for long-term care residents. For people who can’t
care for themselves. [ ♪♪ ] -[ David ] Every day
she hears stories of residents left for hours without help. And then the extremes. A woman left in bed
with a broken hip, the doctor not
called until morning. What do they say? What sits with you? It’s the same thing. What has happened to my mother,
there so many more extremes, so many more things that have
happened that should never have happened, and are worse. -[ David ] Across the country,
staff shortages in long-term care are making headlines. In Québec, the ombudsman says
nursing homes are a disgrace. The conditions the staff
work in are not acceptable. -[ David ] Staff can
barely keep up. [ Cheering ] -[ David ] And in Ontario… -[ Rallier ] Will you stand
with us and keep fighting until seniors get the
dignity they deserve?! [ Cheering ] -[ David ] A call for more
staff in long-term care. [ ♪♪ ] The seniors helped
us build cities, build our province,
and build our country… -[ David ] Supported by the
provincial Conservatives… [ Applause ] -[ David ] Then,
Doug Ford won power. Today we are announcing
15,000 new long-term care beds in the next five years. -[ David ] Now he is promising
more room for seniors in long-term care. 30,000 new beds in ten years. -[ David ] But with a
staffing crisis right now, who is going to take care
of the people in those beds? -[ David ] After two years of
investigating long-term care homes, we are seeing the
impacts of short staffing. So, what is the solution, then? The solution is more staff. We need more staff,
we need more funding. -You need more funding.
-Yeah. -[ David ] We are showing our
hidden camera video to Candace Chartier, CEO of the
Ontario Long-Term Care Association which represents
most homes in the province. We are asking the government
for $100 million a year for the next four years. Do you think you will get it? I think they are
listening to us. I think that if they– Because in this province
there’s a government intent on cutting costs. It is, but it’s a government
that’s investing 15,000 beds, new long-term care beds. If we can’t staff our current
beds and you want to put 15,000 more beds in the system,
more staff has to happen. Please hear me when
I say change is coming, help is on the way. -[ David ] Ontario’s new premier
Doug Ford campaigned on helping seniors. [ Applause ] -[ David ] We want to speak
to him but his government has declined our interview
requests for almost eight weeks. We’re talking to the
people on the front lines, be it doctors, nurses, other
frontline healthcare workers. -[ David ] So we are catching
up with Doug Ford and his Health Minister
unannounced. Minister Elliott,
I’m David with CBC. Can I just ask you a really
quick question about long-term care? Sure. The issue is specifically
around frontline workers. They are saying in long-term
care that there simply aren’t enough of them for the
beds that exist right now. Your government is
announcing even more beds. How do you address the concerns
that frontline workers have around increasing resident
on resident violence, about the fact that they,
in some cases, have just six minutes to get even people with
dementia, who are incapacitated, to get them up and dressed
and to the washroom, to get them washed and get
them to breakfast– how do you address the concerns
these frontline workers have? We take their concerns very
seriously and what we are doing in the ministry right now is a
human resource review of what healthcare professionals we need
in various healthcare settings. Are you committed to listening
to those frontline workers, people like personal
support workers, who form the real frontline? Absolutely, that is who
we want to hear from. We want to hear from frontline
workers because we want to make sure that they feel safe in
the work that they are doing and that they are able to
do it in the best way, the way that they were
trained to do it, and to make sure that all patients
receive high-quality care. [ ♪♪ ] -[ David ] It is too
late to help Marie’s mom. She died after months of
Marie sounding the alarm. You’d been warning of problems. I had been warning
them of problems. Both the home
and the ministry. And the ministry. -And when did–
-And they failed me. When did the ministry finally
respond to your concerns? My report came in October. By October,
your mother is gone. Yes. -[ David ] And remember, it was
only after reviewing this video that Marie uncovered
how her mom died. Her long-term care home,
Markhaven, tells us they have now asked the Ontario
Ministry Of Health to review Giovanna’s death. Meanwhile, in Newfoundland,
Sharon is relentless in pushing for better care with
mandatory staffing ratios. Maybe if someone is
passionate enough about this, that we can inspire others
to do the same. To come together
and be a strong voice for those that
do not have a voice. Who put that certainty
and strength into you as a person? I think it was my mother. To do what you can, and if there
is something that needs to be addressed and it is
wrong, then it is wrong. She’s fighting for herself
through you. Yes, I guess so. [ ♪♪ ] -[ David ] Do you have loved
ones in long- term care? Share your story. E-mail us at [email protected] [ ♪♪ ]