‘Never felt so filthy’: Woman shares grandmother’s experience in understaffed Sask. care home

The Saskatchewan NDP has voiced their concerns regarding understaffing and safety in the province’s long-term care homes after hearing of a troubling story out of Foam Lake.

Health Critic Vicki Mowat is calling on the government to address sanitary risks that residents are facing in these care homes, an issue she said has become increasingly urgent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mowat said outbreaks have happened in other parts of the country and it’s something they do not want to see here.

“It remains an area of concern for us as well with COVID-19, but we know that these staffing issues existed before COVID-19 as well,” she noted.

“We know that this is an area we need to do better in. Seniors deserve to age with dignity in our province.”

During a Thursday online conference with members of the media, Mowat had Marea Olafson, a teacher who lives near Wynyard, speak about the situation her 93-year-old grandmother Ellen Ross faced while living at the Jubilee Home in Foam Lake. Olafson said her grandmother lived with a number of issues due to understaffing.

When recalling a conversation she had with her grandmother when she was living in Foam Lake, Olafson said she “never felt so filthy in her life.”

“The only time her hands saw soap and water is when she had her weekly baths. Otherwise she is handed a face cloth,” shared Olafson. “She asked if she could be given a basin or help to the sink, but she was handed a face cloth before and after meals.”

The problems Ross experienced at the home stretch outside of cleanliness. There were issues with not having enough response from staff when help was needed.

“She’s got compression factors in her back because of osteoporosis and she’s complaining that hurts, but the comment made to her is ‘maybe you should take some more pain medications,’” she added.

Olafson mentioned that her grandmother has since been transferred from Foam Lake to Wynyard so she can be closer to family.

She also sent a letter to Health Minister Jim Reiter and Premier Scott Moe on July 8 to raise her concerns with her grandmother’s treatment at the facility.

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