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Agency to review findings from coroner's inquest to 'better protect seniors'

Jun 19 2012

Recommendations from a coroner's inquest - including one for a training program for home-share providers - are being considered "seriously and thoroughly" by Community Living B.C., says the organization's vice-president of policy and program development.

"We'll be looking at what changes might improve coordination and better protect seniors," said Carol Goozh, noting the recommendations, released Friday, will be reviewed by the CEO, policy staff and field staff.

The inquest last week was sparked by the death of Joan Andrews, a 76-year-old woman who had a developmental disability and died Feb. 10, 2011, from a head injury after falling out of bed.

She had been living in a home share with a young family since 2009, and was a client of Community Living B.C., a government agency that provides support to people with developmental disabilities.

While there's no timeline for when recommendations might be implemented, Goozh said, they'll be considered in conjunction with a report from the deputy minister's working group, released Jan. 19. The report was part of a plan to improve services offered through Community Living.

The nine recommendations to Community Living B.C. included the suggestion that training for home-share providers involve information about the health-care system, basic medical terminology, pharmaceutical administration and expectations regarding communication.

Inquest lawyer John Orr said no such training currently exists. "The home-share provider isn't specialized in any kind of care. There are no prequalifications they have to have," he said.

Orr said caring for seniors with developmental disabilities is sometimes complicated by age-related health issues, noting there were questions at the inquest as to whether Andrews suffered from dementia.

Other recommendations included more frequent home visits - four home visits a year, instead of the current standard of an annual visit.

The jury also recommended that future care be discussed, documented and reviewed annually with each individual.

Home-share residents can stay in the same place for 15 to 20 years, Orr said.

"When I heard the witnesses speaking [as home-share providers] ... they said it's just like taking a relative into your home who needs care. They look at this like a family placement," he said.

"That's the concept, but it does run into difficulties when you're dealing with this aging population."

The coroner's jury made one recommendation to the Vancouver Island Health Authority - that the organization formalize a process to inform individuals, their families and relevant agencies of an individual's status on care-facility waiting lists.

Orr noted that communication between Vancouver Island Health Authority and Community Living B.C. was raised as an issue at the inquest.

"It wasn't totally clear that the health authority was providing the same level of health service as they would in an average home," he said, adding the Vancouver Island Health Authority looks to Community Living B.C. for some health-care solutions.

He said though the issue wasn't resolved at the inquest, "the agencies are working together."

cclancy@timescolonist.com

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