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Grandson alleges Ottawa long-term care home negligent in woman’s death

Elizabeth Payne, The Ottawa Citizen

When Doris Lawton’s Alzheimer’s disease began to worsen at age 93, her grandson moved her into a long-term care home to keep her safe. “I put her there because I thought she was going to be protected,” said Bradley Sproule. “That is the one thing that didn’t happen.” What did happen soon after Lawton moved to Carlingview Manor in 2016 were falls — including one the day after she returned from the hospital following surgery for a hip fracture, according to her grandson and a statement of claim he has filed against Revera Long Term Care Inc., which operates Carlingview Manor. Those repeated falls resulted in hip fractures, surgeries, long hospital stays and worsening health for the elderly Ottawa woman. She died on Oct. 19, 2017, from a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in her lung), not long after her final hospital stay. Sproule is suing Carlingview Manor for negligence, which he is alleging contributed to the death of his grandmother. In court documents filed as part of the lawsuit, he says that the long-term care home failed to protect his grandmother by initially failing to adapt her care plan to prevent falls. When it did make changes, he alleges, it failed to communicate them to staff. And even when it had a plan in place, the suit contends, it failed to follow it. 

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http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/i-put-her-there-because-i-thought-she-would-be-protected-grandson-sues-long-term-care-home

Citizen feature wins Joan Gullen Award for Media Excellence

Bruce Deachman, The Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa Citizen reporter Blair Crawford has earned the Joan Gullen Award for Media Excellence for his feature The Wanderers, which examined issues surrounding people who, because of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, wander from their caregivers. In the feature, which appeared in the Citizen last March, Crawford carefully explained the stress and worry faced by people whose loved ones have wandered, and showed how perilous the problem can be for all involved. The story was nominated for the award by members of the Eastern branch of the Ontario Association of Social Workers and unanimously chosen by a panel of reviewers.

“This series of articles,” noted one reviewer, “provides a deep and captivating glimpse into an under-reported issue. I think, across the series, the author was able to capture various perspectives related to what could be done to minimize the chances of wandering (i.e. Smarter houses, redesigning homes and new programs designed to help find seniors), but also was able to capture the real-life impacts of families and individuals affected by Alzheimer’s directly. It culminated in a bit of a grim reminder that the statistics are daunting, and no cure has been found.”

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http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/citizen-feature-wins-joan-gullen-award-for-media-excellence

How lack of MD house calls keeps people from dying at home –
where they want to be

Elizabeth Payne, The Ottawa Citizen

Dr. Peter Tanuseputro treats most of his dying patients in their own homes. He offers patients his cellphone number and the assurance that he will be there when they need him. These house calls — part palliative care, part hand-holding — are embraced by grateful patients and their families. And they make the Orléans family medicine practice that Tanuseputro shares with his wife stand out. “We are in the minority,” he says of their home visits. What the husband and wife physicians do is relatively rare in Ontario, where most people say they want to die in their own homes but few do. Nearly 70 per cent of Ontario residents die in hospitals or long-term care facilities — some of them in busy emergency rooms waiting for a bed. Lack of access to in-home end-of-life care is key to the discrepancy between wishes and reality when it comes to end of life.

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http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/how-lack-of-house-calls-are-keeping-people-from-dying-where-they-want-at-home

Tele-medicine for palliative care patients among initiatives to help
patients die at home

Elizabeth Payne, The Ottawa Citizen

The Champlain health region, including Ottawa, has the lowest rates in the province of people dying in the hospital, but even those numbers are too high, say health officials. When surveyed, 70 per cent of people in the province have said they would prefer to die at home, yet nowhere near that number do. In the Champlain LHIN, about 45 per cent of deaths occur in hospitals. An additional 17 per cent of people die in long-term care, which means fewer than 40 per cent of deaths happen at home or in hospices. The Champlain numbers compare favourably to the rest of the province — almost 60 per cent of residents in the Toronto Central health region, for example, die in hospital. Still, the Champlain LHIN is investing in helping more people die where they want to.

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http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/tele-medicine-for-palliative-care-patients-among-initiatives-to-help-patients-die-at-home

“They are stressed out”
Long-term care staff fear underfunding could lead to tragedy

Elizabeth Payne, The Ottawa Citizen

Staff working overnight at long-term care homes fear chronic underfunding will lead to tragedy, say members of the union that represents the workers. “They are stressed out,” said Louis Rodrigues, first vice-president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions. “In the nighttime, they are worried that if there was a fire or something, they couldn’t evacuate those patients, given the number of staff.” Registered practical nurses and personal support workers, who do the bulk of the work in long-term care, have long complained they are unable to provide adequate care or spend enough time with residents, given staffing levels. Many also say the situation is not safe. In some homes, as many as 40-50 patients, most with dementia and mobility issues, are under the direct care of one staff member overnight. There are no mandated staffing levels in long-term care, but the Ontario government has committed to an increase — up to four hours per patient, a level long recommended in the province. But staff, union and opposition members say that promise is less than it appears and does not go far enough. It would not happen right away and union officials argue the province’s numbers do not add up.

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http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/they-are-stressed-out-long-term-care-staff-fear-underfunding-could-lead-to-tragedy

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