Health Minister Doug Currie says he will post inspection reports from nursing homes online after Independent MLA Olive Crane raised concern about a lack of transparency after she received concerns over incidents at the facilities.
Crane said a number of Islanders have come to her, asking what recourse they have to investigate if they feel their loved one is not receiving appropriate care at a nursing home.
That’s why she asked Currie to place inspection reports online, as is done for restaurant inspection reports.
“It would force private-sector facilities to take all issues seriously and to improve them in a very quick time period,” she said.
“For example, if someone requires care to go to the bathroom and they may be left for three or four hours at a time, that’s not appropriate. But if an inspector goes in and does a random review and finds people are not getting the support they need, if it’s a staffing issue because you don’t have enough staff on, I guarantee that will be corrected.”
Crane said the reports would also be helpful for Islanders looking at whether a facility meets the needs of their aging family member before placing them at the home.
“People want to make choices, and how do they know where their (family member) is going to go to, if that’s a good facility or not.”
Currie acknowledged Thursday there has been a backlog of inspections of private nursing home facilities.
He said this is because it is taking longer for the inspections to be completed, as an increasing number of residents develop more chronic health problems and complex conditions such as dementia.
The five provincial inspectors, who are nurses, do not simply go into these facilities with a clipboard and a checklist, Currie said.
“Not only do they inspect and look at the facility and make sure it's meeting the standards, but they provide feedback on a variety of different things ... suggestions and advice on how they can continue to provide good care.”
To deal with the backlog, Health P.E.I. recently brought on two more nurse inspectors for short-term contracts to get things caught up.
But in the long term, Currie agreed with Crane that more transparency is needed regarding how these facilities are caring for their clients.
“There’s public money that goes into these facilities to support them, so it only makes sense that there’s a level of accountability, through the inspectors, and that there’s a transparent process,” Currie said.
He pledged the reports will go online, but officials must first do an evaluation about the technical and administrative work that must be done to make it happen.
“I think that it’s very appropriate the we have the inspections online. I think the intent all along has been that we get them online,” Currie said.
As for concerns over incidents occurring within the facilities, Currie acknowledged incidents do happen from time to time at the facilities, but they are isolated.
He said he has only seen a small number of cases where a facility failed to meet the legislated procedures and protocols and was issued provisional licence.
“I’ve got great confidence in the owners and operators of the community care facilities and the private long-term care facilities,” Currie said.
“They do a very good job, but the way I look at the role of the inspector — we want to work with the facilities, we want to help provide good support, good advice because at the end of the day, the most important thing about all this is the quality of care the patient or the individual is getting in these facilities.”