Seniors’ advocate says long-term care complaints common

Seniors Advocacy Centre executive director John Fryters speaks at the annual seniors' gala on March 7, 2019. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

A local seniors’ advocate isn’t surprised to see concerns raised about the state of the province’s long term care homes.

John Fryters is the volunteer executive director of the Prince Albert Senior’s Advocacy Centre. He said his organization often hears concerns about long term care and is concerned that more are afraid to speak up.

“The Seniors Advocacy Centre in the last six years has received quite a number of complaints about care homes,” he said.

“They call me and they say ‘there is something wrong with the food,’ but what really scares me is this, and we hear it over and over again: ‘but don’t say anything to no one because I don’t want to lose my spot in this nursing home.’”

Fryters’ comments came as the NDP and Sask. Party continued trading barbs about the state of long term care in the province. The NDP is calling for better funding, more staff and improved infrastructure, as well as the restoration of legislated minimum care standards.

The ruling Sask. Party says it has minimum care standards included in its care home regulations. It also says it has increased funding for long term care by 45 per cent and the number of workers by 700.

A report came out Friday detailing concerns and praise for each of the province’s long-term care facilities.

While many residents were pleased with the care they received, many also expressed concerns about the number of staff members and whether they families can trust that care will be consistent when they’re not there to help.

On Tuesday, the NDP said a response to written questions showed that the value of needed repairs in the province’s health facilities has reached $3.5 billion. That’s a 59 per cent increase since the $2.2 billion worth of needed repairs in 2013.

“Facilities across the province are crumbling and understaffed, and residents aren’t getting the care they need — that’s what we heard loud and clear from last week’s CEO report,” said NDP Health Critic Vicki Mowat. “With these deferred maintenance numbers today, we can see just how bad the problem has gotten, with $3.5 billion in repairs needed to restore these facilities to the kind of condition you’d feel comfortable letting a loved one stay in.”

Fryters said his main concern is that residents live in fear of complaining.

‘They should be free to express their concerns about the place they’re living in without having to feel like they’re going to lose their accommodation or their housing,” he said.

Fryters said he believes there is a crisis in seniors’ living accommodations in Saskatchewan, particularly in social housing.

“Long-term care is going to be at the forefront of my mind over the next couple of months,” said Fryters, who has yet to review Friday’s report.

He vowed, though, to take action.

“Maybe some writing and some complaining.”

With files from Jayda Noyes