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Heartbreaking story of senior in care highlights broken system

EDMONTON, AB (December 2, 2013): The story of a senior left to have her wounds fester after days of neglect highlights the importance of fixing a broken seniors care system and making the new Seniors Advocate fully independent, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.

 Violet MacDonald, mother of Cassie Liska, was first admitted to care at the McKenzie Town Nursing Home in May 2007, having been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and type two diabetes with foot ulcer. On February 6 this year, Violet had small existing bed sores on her buttocks and her feet left unattended for several days.  This caused the wounds to become seriously infected.  The infection reached to her bones, forcing hospitalization and months of Vac Therapy treatment.  The family was not made aware of the nature of the wounds until she was hospitalized.  Violet passed away this October. An investigation done under the Protection for Persons in Care Act found the allegation of abuse was founded based on neglect of care. Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said the story of Violet outlines a broken system where families feel helpless and staff are left without the proper resources or guidelines to address these challenges. “For Cassie to watch her mother be hospitalized with such horrifying wounds and being caught in a system that fails to give her adequate answers and solutions is heartbreaking,” Smith said.  “The recommendations from the investigation fail to provide system wide standards to ensure Violet’s story is not repeated, fails to hold the government accountable and does little to improve accountability in seniors care centres province wide.” Due to her medical condition, Violet often told nursing staff that she did not want care, but as a result, she was left for up to 36 hours in the same incontinent pad. The family was left unaware of her condition until she arrived in hospital. Wildrose Seniors Critic Kerry Towle said that it is extremely common for seniors in similar conditions as Violet to refuse care, but that does not excuse why she was left in such deplorable conditions or why stronger guidelines for staff do not exist. “We would not accept children to receive this type of treatment under provincial care, so why would we allow the same thing to happen to our seniors?” Towle said. “It’s why we made the Child and Youth Advocate independent and it’s why we need to make the Seniors Advocate independent.  We must make a broken system accountable and get action from the ministry responsible.” Liska said she wants families in Alberta to not have to go through her same experience and ensure improvements are made to the system. “It was awful to sit and watch my mom suffer and think how this happened to her,” Liska said.  “My purpose behind this is no one should ever have to endure what my mom did before it is too late for other families.”