Summerland seniors facility copes with high staff turnover

Retirement Concepts had 15 different job postings for Summerland Seniors Village listed on its website as of last week

Summerland Seniors Village is on a continuous hiring spree because the beleaguered facility operator is having a hard time keeping its workers, according to their union.

Retirement Concepts had 15 different job postings for the care home listed on its website as of last week. The positions ranged from a cook and licensed practical nurse to laundry workers and residential care aides.

The demand for new workers is due mainly to high staff turnover, said Mike Old, a spokesperson for the Hospital Employees’ Union, which represents about 60 people at the site.

“Our impression is that staff have been leaving that facility as soon as they can manage to do so. Casuals are less and less available for work. Lots of regular staff are refusing to work overtime there,” he said.

“I think the place is obviously a bit of a mess and it’s a very stressful place to work. And our members are generally looking for other opportunities to work in health care if they can.”

The facility has been under intense scrutiny since November when one of its residents was found near death in his room. Alfredo Bonaldi, 91, was taken to hospital in Penticton where he later died.

The company subsequently admitted staff hadn’t followed a policy that requires workers to check on residents who are absent at meal times.

In the months that followed, Interior Health’s licensing branch conducted multiple inspections at the site, including six in February alone, and appointed an administrator to run the residential-care side of the facility, where IH funds 75 of 80 beds for people who require some assistance from nurses.

IH also funds 18 of 36 assisted-living units, where service includes housekeeping, some meals and limited personal care. Another 70 independent-living units are available for residents who want housekeeping and meals only.

Acting on a complaint separate from the Bonaldi case, B.C.’s Assisted Living Registrar conducted its own investigation of the home’s assisted-living section. That probe’s report, released in January, listed 14 actions required for the facility to meet standards set in provincial legislation.

Retirement Concepts vice-president of operations Tony Baena declined an interview request but said in a statement that the company is making good progress on the list.

“We have addressed most of the issues identified in the report and are currently working to address the outstanding items that revolve around further training and refining some of the wording in our policies,” Baena said.

“We continue to follow the missing resident protocol that we have put into place, whereby a visual, documented roll call is done at meal time with a documented follow-up signed by a staff member for any resident not present at mealtime.”

He added that home support workers have a new leader and have received “re-education” to ensure they’re “fully versed in current practices and procedures,” and the addition of two workers to the assisted-living program means staffing there is “sufficient.”

Karen Bloemink, regional director of residential services for IH, said the company has always met minimum staffing requirements.

But besides difficulty finding staff, the facility is also unable to find new residents, since IH has forbid it from accepting new clients until its affairs are in order. Bloemink said there’s still no timeline for when that restriction will be lifted.

She also said the residential-care boss IH installed is due to leave at the end of April, but that will depend on the company’s ability to sustain the changes it’s made.


Penticton Western News