By Mike Wilson
If all goes according to plan, admissions to Brucelea Haven could resume by the end of February.
In an update to the Bruce County homes committee on Jan. 9, acting director of long-term care Jill Knowlton stated that everything is on track to resume admissions following a series of inspections by the Ministry of Long-Term Care late last year.
Knowlton stated that six compliance orders issued by the Ministry have been cleared.
“We did get one written notification for palliative care education,” said Knowlton. “That was particularly around the palliative order set. There was some confusion around which palliative order set was being used… we’ve made that clarification. I was just checking on that this morning and they (staff) have looked after that one.”
Brucelea Haven also received one additional compliance order pertaining to medication management.
Knowlton explained that the order is around times of administration and registered staff documentation of administration.
“This is a very difficult order to clear,” she said.
Knowlton told the committee that, as per professional standards, nurses are required to document medication that is given immediately after administering that medication. What was happening at Brucelea Haven is that nurses would give the medication and then get called away or involved in something else, then not get back to documenting the medication in a timely manner.
“That is absolutely unacceptable from a medical professional standards requirement and from a safety perspective,” said Knowlton.
Staff at the home have since received mandatory education on this requirement, and twice daily audits (including on weekends and holidays) are in place with immediate follow up with the staff member if something appears out of order.
“If we get this order again, it becomes a director’s referral, so this is very serious,” said Knowlton.
Part of compliance on this order requires working with the home’s pharmacy service provider to have some medication times adjusted. Knowlton said there has been some difficulties getting a satisfactory plan in place with the pharmacy service provider and told the committee she is committed to correcting this issue.
“We will get that corrected right away,” she said.
There is another set of five compliance orders due Jan. 25, which Knowlton expects will be cleared.
Knowlton addressed the proverbial elephant in the room: the director’s order that ceased admissions to Brucelea Haven in July 2019.
“I know the issue of the director’s order is top of mind for everyone,” she said.
Knowlton explained that she has had conversations with Ministry staff around this order as recently at the first week of January and reported that those conversations were positive.
“We had quite a discussion around that, what the process would be (to open to admissions) and that we are tracking well,” she said.
Knowlton said they are hoping for an inspection in February. To have the director’s order lifted, a complete inspection of Brucelea Haven would need to be conducted and passed before they could re-open to admissions.
Knowlton added that she would like to go ahead and begin preparing the readmission plan because the plan needs to be approved by the Ministry, and the sooner they can get the plan, the quicker the home can resume admissions.
“One of the senior managers (at the Ministry) felt that was quite reasonable to do, to get it going early and there could be some dialogue around it with them and the work that is being done with them in advance,” said Knowlton. “I take that as a very positive sign.”
With roughly 35,000 people in Ontario on waiting lists for long-term care and 28 beds empty at Brucelea Haven, Knowlton understands the need to have the cease admissions order lifted.
“Every day that a bed is closed, that’s a spot that somebody needs, and their families need,” she said. “We need to keep on this direction and get that director’s order lifted. Once we overcome that hurdle, there are lots of things we can do… we need to restart admissions to the home.”
Kincardine Mayor Anne Eadie commended Knowlton and the staff at Brucelea Haven for all of the work they have done in turning the home around.
“The progress you’ve made and keeping everything on track, I think staff and now the leadership at the home have done an amazing job pulling so many things together in the timelines that you had hope to do it,” she said.