Ontario's worst-hit long-term care home had track record of inspection failures, documents show

Ontario’s worst-hit long-term care home had track record of inspection failures, documents show

The worst-hit long-term care home in Ontario had a track record of failing to meet standards before the pandemic hit, inspection records show.

Orchard Villa in Pickering has seen the most fatalities due to coronavirus of any long-term care home in the province, with at least 71 succumbing to the virus. There have been 260 cases at the 233-bed facility, which includes 65 staff who have tested positive.

The long-term care home was one of five where the Canadian Armed Forces were called in to supplement staff. In a damning report released Tuesday, the military found that cockroaches and flies were present at the LTC, nurses appeared to document assessments that hadn't taken place, and one patient died in a choking incident where staff may not have followed proper procedure.

But concerns about Orchard Villa have persisted for some time, records show.

The long-term care home, which is owned by parent company Southbridge Care Homes Inc., was the subject of eight written notifications stemming from an inspection conducted from November 4 to 8. Among the concerns flagged by six provincial inspectors were: failing to follow continence routines for a patient because "they did not have time to implement the intervention as per the care plan," multiple incidents of abuse and a failure to document one such incident, and not implementing prescribed supports following one resident's fall.

These findings were part of a pattern, documents show. Before the pandemic Orchard Villa was deemed to have a Level 3 compliance history, the second-worst possible category, which the ministry categorizes as "actual harm/risk." An April 2019 report had three findings against the long-term care home, including running short on clean linen. A March 2019 report found several incidents in which the long-term care home did not adequately follow the care plan for residents or sufficiently respond to patient falls.

Despite 10 reports of incidents or complaints at Orchard Villa since the PC formed government, the facility has not received a comprehensive inspection since one was released in March 2018. That report detailed problems with administering medication, alleged staff-to-resident abuse, and claimed that 16 per cent of staff had failed to complete the mandatory skin and wound training.

After each finding Orchard Villa said it would implement a plan to improve.

But the daughter of one late resident found the care for her father lacking. Paul Parkes, a former salesman who avidly read the bible and had a big laugh, moved into the facility in November 2019.

In early April his daughter Cathy became worried for his care when she saw on a Durham Region website that Orchard Villa was the subject of a coronavirus outbreak, a fact she learned on April 10 and says the facility did not communicate.

Orchard Villa's parent company did not respond to a request to respond to the claims in time for publication, but QP Briefing will update the story when they do.

Cathy was concerned about the staffing levels and the amount of personal protective equipment at Orchard Villa, and wrote a letter to Premier Doug Ford and Long-term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton on April 11 to share her concerns about the conditions of the long-term care facility. It was too late. Her father died on April 15.

"The one wish I had was to give my father a gift in his final moments, to be by his side and to tell him how much I loved him," she said at a morning press conference organized by the NDP via the video conferencing app Zoom.

She didn't get that chance. Parkes' family has since filed a statement of claim seeking $1.5 million from the long-term care home, claiming negligence. Among the allegations, which have not been proven in court, are that the facility claimed there was a "flu outbreak" at the home on April 6. Residents were still eating communally at that time, the statement of claim alleges. Paul Parkes' roommate had tested positive for the coronavirus, but he was not immediately moved to a different room. And the family struggled to get a test for Parkes; his positive diagnosis for COVID-19 came three days after he passed away.

Cathy Parkes added that she was disappointed that the premier took two weeks to respond to her letter concerning LTC home conditions, which she says received a boilerplate response. She demanded more from the government to tackle the situation. "What we want is a public inquiry and a criminal investigation," she said on Thursday morning.

QP Briefing requested a response from the office of the long-term care minister, and we'll publish it when it's received.

The government has maintained that it inherited issues from the Liberal government when it comes to long-term care homes, and that it was working to improve the file when the pandemic hit. The premier has said that the results from the military report, which included Orchard Villa, came as a surprise, while Fullerton has defended the amount of inspections the ministry has conducted.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said that these outcomes should not be a surprise to the likes of Ford and Fullerton, as the issues have been raised for a long time. "If they are surprised then they chose not to hear what people are saying," she claimed.

She also stressed the importance of telling the stories of individuals who have suffered due to inadequate care at Ontario's long-term care homes. "We need to make sure we seize this moment to change long-term care forever in this province."

David Hains

QP Briefing Reporter

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