Manitoba Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living Kelvin Goertzen tells family members concerned with care at Lions Prairie Manor his department has been investigating the Portage la Prairie home since October.
The Portage Citizen — Jon Gerrard, Liberal MLA River Heights, and party health critic brought the Manitoba provincial Liberals travelling Health Care Check-Up road show to Portage La Prairie on April 24 not knowing this meeting would soon stir up a hornet’s nest about senior care at Lions Prairie Manor.
Fast forward to May 10 when the Liberal health critic tabled a 20-page report during Question Period in the legislature outlining alleged senior abuse at Lions Prairie Manor in Portage la Prairie. Gerrard’s submission was witnessed by a number of Portagers who travelled to the legislature whose concerns were part of the basis of the report.
Manitoba Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living Kelvin Goertzen then dropped a bomb on the unsuspecting family members watching the proceedings from the gallery: Lions Prairie Manor in Portage la Prairie is already under investigation.
“I understand that there is an investigation that’s been undertaken by the Protection of Persons in Care Office (PPCO). There have been about 100 interviews with families and staff members that have happened as a result of that investigation,” Minister Goertzen explained.
“As a result of the investigation, the Continuing Care branch of our department has put the home’s licence under review. There are – have been — a number of unannounced inspections during that time to ensure standards are being met. We expect to get the results of the PCPO–or PPCO investigation in about 60 days. I can’t speak to the actual investigation, but I will meet with family members to listen to them,” Goertzen said in the Legislature.
“We were shocked when Mr. Goertzen announced in the Question Period that over 100 interviews have been conducted to date,” said Lynn White, whose concerns are in Gerrard’s report and was in the gallery when it was tabled. White explained being a part of MLA Gerrard’s report came after exhausting all other avenues of communication. “It was never a witch hunt. It was because we were unable to get accountability or acknowledgement in dealing with care of our vulnerable loved ones. Repeated requests for meeting went unanswered and ignored…we could get no answers to issues and concerns within the manor (so) we went outside as advised in the resident information handbook to PPCO.”
White’s father is a resident at the manor. White wrote in the report that her dad was left unattended in a bathroom for 45 minutes. This was just one incident that made her worry about the quality of her father’s care at the manor. She and her husband Darryl first tried to deal with care issues at the local level. Unhappy with a lack of results, White felt it had to be escalated to include letters to the health minister and the PPCO.
Lions Prairie Manor management has not returned phone calls to The Portage Citizen to discuss Gerrard’s report or the PPCO investigation. Understandably the manor would refuse comment anyway while an investigation is underway and a government report is imminent.
“We are not a group of vigilantes who have run blindly looking for attention. We are heartbroken and devasted family members who are weary and exhausted. Many have lost their loved ones and are struggling with thoughts, ‘we let our loved ones down…’, People need to have their voices heard. “It’s past terrible, it’s neglect and abuse and we need answers,” White said.
“People have been really dumbfounded about what’s going on in Lions Prairie Manor,” Gerrard said. “We were told by the minister in Question Period and at this meeting that Lions Prairie Manor is now under investigation and is being looked at very thoroughly and critically from the Protection for Persons in Care Office.”
Among the 20 recommendations included in Gerrard’s report are: accountability at every level, up-to-date care plan documentation available to patient and family, increased frequency of meetings to talk about care plans and planning, the Resident Bill of Rights is followed, improved staffing, upgrade equipment and work to improve a perception some have of the manor “as “the most unwelcoming and unfriendly place” to one where “residents and family are made to feel at home and welcomed.”
Specifics of the government’s investigation are unknown. But it is serious enough it has put the manor’s licence under review.
What started as an exploratory health care mission to ask Manitobans what is working well, what is not working, where do we need to invest and what is needed to improve or restore trust in health care in Manitoba, resulted in a report alleging elder abuse at Prairie Lion Manor and the government admission the manor is under investigation.
“When you’ve got conditions which are as bad as they are now, we need change quickly,” Gerrard said. “A report coming 60 days from now is not good enough.”