Vancouver Island Health takes over operations of Victoria seniors home after damning report

Conditions at the Selkirk Seniors Village in Victoria are so dire the Vancouver Island Health Authority has taken over daily operations of the care home.

That makes Selkirk the third B.C. seniors facility owned and operated by a private company under the control of the Chinese government to have an administrator appointed to run it.

The move comes on the heels of a damning report by South Island Medical Health Officer Dr. Murray Fyfe, who assessed the status of dozens of complaints from families with loved ones living at Selkirk.

The complaints cited neglect, emotional abuse, staffing shortages, health and hygiene issues and dangerous facilities.

“Based on the number and nature of contraventions outlined in the final investigation summary, it is my opinion that action is required to protect the health, safety and dignity of persons in care at Selkirk Seniors Village,” wrote Fyfe.

According to Fyfe, Selkirk’s administration failed repeatedly to meet the minimum requirements of the Continuing Care and Assisted Living Act, which governs seniors care in the province. Fyfe said management at Selkirk appeared either unable or unwilling to meet its mandated responsibilities.

Mark Blandford, executive director of primary care and seniors health for Island Health, said complaints dating as far back as 2017 were ignored by management.

Most beds publicly funded

“Many of those complaints relate to quality of care, delivery of medication and management of things like wounds,” said Blandford.

“The overall basic standard of care that we would expect in a facility of this type has not been delivered.”

Of the 217 long-term beds at Selkirk Seniors Village, 185 are publicly funded.

Island Health said complaints dating as far back as 2017 were ignored by management. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Earlier this year, the Nanaimo Seniors Village and Comox Valley Seniors Village were put under administration by Island Health.

All three are owned and operated by the Retirement Concepts group of companies, which has 20 seniors care homes across B.C.. 

In 2017, Retirement Concepts was purchased by the Chinese company Anbang in a federally-approved sale.

Homes understaffed

Anbang was seized by the government of China in 2018 after its CEO, Wu Xiahui, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for fraud and embezzlement.

Blandford says the common denominator of the three care homes now under administration is a failure by management to meet required staffing levels. 

The Hospital Employees Union says workers at the facilities earn between $3 and $5 an hour less than in other locations. 

In October, Island Health added 12 resident care aids, one licensed practical nurse position to cover all shifts, and one registered nurse in order to stabilize operations at Selkirk. 

Blandford said the costs associated with propping up Selkirk and the two other two care homes are being charged to Retirement Concepts.

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