Victoria care facility stays under watch of health body

Island Health has extended its management of the privately owned 217-bed Selkirk Seniors Village in Victoria until at least Oct. 12.

Susan Abermann was appointed administrator of the long-term care facility on Dec. 12 last year amid concerns about staffing shortages and neglect of residents. Her appointment was to last six months.

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On Friday, Island Health announced that Abermann will continue to oversee daily operations and management of the private facility, reporting to Island Health’s board of directors.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a statement he supports the decision by Island Health’s board of directors to extend the appointment.

“Ensuring that residents in long-term care facilities are receiving quality, safe and dignified care is our foremost priority. We will continue to put residents first before any other consideration,” Dix said.

Chair Leah Hollins said the board is pleased with reports of substantial progress toward meeting legislated care standards at Selkirk Seniors Village, but added reports show the administrator and her team have more work to do “toward meeting our commitment of providing the best possible care to these residents.”

Selkirk Seniors Village was the third Retirement Concepts seniors home on Vancouver Island to fall under the health authority’s temporary control.

At the time, Dix said the “extraordinary” move to take over Selkirk was made on the recommendation of South Island medical health officer Dr. Murray Fyfe. The health authority funds 185 of the 217 beds at the privately owned long-term care facility.

“We don’t want to intervene,” Dix told reporters at the B.C. legislature. “We don’t want to run these care facilities and we would like to bring them into compliance and ensure that we’re not running them or we’re not administrating them in the long term.

“But the medical health officer, following the law, said there was no choice and we acted. We’d prefer not to act. We’d prefer not to act in all three cases, but we were required to because of the circumstances and because the residents who live there needed us to intervene and we did.”

In a report on Selkirk Seniors Village to Island Health’s board, Fyfe highlighted concerns about staffing shortages, site cleanliness and a neglect of residents’ basic needs, such as bathing, wound care, comfort and supervision. Similar concerns were raised at the facilities in Nanaimo and Courtenay. Abermann was also appointed to run the Comox Seniors Village in Courtenay on Sept. 30 and the Nanaimo Seniors Village on Nov. 27.

Fyfe noted that a licensing investigation concluded that Retirement Concepts “consistently demonstrated that they are unwilling or unable to meet the minimum requirements set forth in legislation.”

Fyfe’s recommendation to extend Abermann’s appointment at Selkirk was based on her detailed reports and Island Health’s Community Care Facilities Licensing program.

He noted encouraging progress toward meeting legislated standards of care at Selkirk, pointing to improved communication and relationship- building with residents’ loved ones through monthly family council meetings, the purchase of necessary equipment and the creation of new staff positions.

However, an additional period of oversight is required to continue to improve staff training and education, support staff in care planning and to provide ongoing monitoring of facility maintenance, he said.

The board will review the situation and consider the administrator’s appointment at Selkirk Seniors Village before Oct. 12.

Selkirk Seniors Village is operated by Pacific Reach Seniors Housing Management operating as West Coast Seniors Housing Management, which is part of the Retirement Concepts group of companies.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

— With a file from Lindsay Kines

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