A Summerland seniors care home owned by the Chinese government struggling with chronic staffing shortages this year remains backed by Interior Health.
The health authority’s executive director of residential services, Cindy Kozak-Campbell, says they are confident the facility’s management “is doing everything they can to address their staffing shortages.”
“We are going to continue to work with them closely on some next steps.”
Castanet News reported this week the care home was visited by IH inspectors four times this year and found to be missing staffing requirements on three occasions. There has also been a steady stream of complaints to local politicians on the issue.
Kozak-Campbell says none of that is a surprise for them.
“We’ve been aware of the staffing shortages that have been happening at Summerland Seniors Village since late summer and we’ve been working closely with them around their action plan,” she said, adding they are “seeing some success” recently.
She said the facility has temporarily suspended intake of its private-pay beds and is working on the recruitment of new employees.
The Summerland Seniors Village was purchased by China’s Anbang Insurance last year along with 21 other B.C. care homes with the purchase of Retirement Concepts for $1 billion. In February, the Chinese government seized control of the company and jailed its CEO for fraud.
While the provincial government sets a benchmark target 3.36 hours of care per resident a day in care homes, IH facilities have a minimum funded hours floor of around 3.15.
Kozak-Campbell says the Summerland facility has struggled to meet their funded-hour minimums this year, but IH isn’t ready to start clawing back funding from the facility.
“Recovering funds from any of our providers is a new process for Interior Health this year, so we want to be sure we’ve given all of our providers every opportunity to add hours in before they get to the end of the year and make every attempt to make their funded hour requirement.”
She attributed the staffing challenges in Summerland to a larger problem in the South Okanagan.
“From my perspective I wouldn’t necessarily single them out. I do have other sites in the South Okanagan that are having the same types of challenges.”
She says Interior Health is working hard to encourage young people to enter the care aide sector. MLA Dan Ashton has pointed the finger at a pay discrepancy between privately-owned and IH-run care homes, where workers can make up to five dollars an hour more.
Kozak-Campbell said that’s likely contributing, but IH is also having trouble hiring care aides for their casual labour and on-calls pools.
“In the South Okanagan in particular, we are having recruitment challenges everywhere.”
She said IH has another meeting with management of the Summerland Seniors Village next week that will follow up on the care home’s action plan in the wake of deficiencies found during the most recent pair of inspections in November.
Even with the staff crunch, Kozak-Campbell says residents of the Summerland Seniors Village are being taken care of.
“We are confident that people in care right now are receiving quality care, the concern is around the staffing levels, versus the individual care that people are receiving.”
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