'No mistreatment' of elderly woman who died in Montreal long-term care home, report finds

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The patient, identified by Radio-Canada as Marie M., was a resident at the Centre d'hébergement Saint-Joseph-de-la-Providence in the Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie borough of Montreal. (Thomas Gerbet/Radio-Canada - image credit)
The patient, identified by Radio-Canada as Marie M., was a resident at the Centre d'hébergement Saint-Joseph-de-la-Providence in the Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie borough of Montreal. (Thomas Gerbet/Radio-Canada - image credit)

A Montreal regional health agency's complaints commissioner has found "there was no mistreatment" of an 81-year-old patient days before her death at a long-term care home in the city's east end earlier this year.

The patient, who died in early February, had not been restrained and was not left sitting in her excrement at the Centre d'hébergement Saint-Joseph-de-la-Providence, the report found.

The Red Cross had alerted the woman's condition to the Quebec Health Ministry and reiterated its version of events in an interview with Radio-Canada.

"The lady received the services necessary for her state of health and passed away in the most dignified manner possible, surrounded by her loved ones on Feb. 9, 2022," the commissioner's report states.

The Red Cross says it will not comment on the matter. The Quebec coroner's office is still looking into the woman's death.

The long-term care home is publicly funded but operated by the Congrégation des Soeurs de la Providence and is located in Montreal's Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie borough.

A Canadian Red Cross worker helping out at the home due to a COVID-10 outbreak reported finding a woman restrained, naked and left in her own excrement on Feb. 5.

Despite personnel being alerted, the Red Cross reported that the woman was not taken care of until the end of the day.

The Quebec coroner's office and the health board overseeing the home, the CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, both launched investigations into the woman's death.

In conducting the health board's internal investigation, commissioner Alexandrine Côté heard from 34 people, including relatives of the resident, her doctor, the users' committee, the union, employees and managers.

Côté heard testimony from people on site who found, to the contrary, that the patient's bedding was changed regularly.

She also noted that "the resident did not have any dermatitis, diaper rash, or skin lesions as a result of her incontinence. The presence of these complications could indicate gaps in care or even abuse."

"The resident received quality hygiene care and the bedding was changed regularly day and night," Côté said in her report.

Multiple sources told Radio-Canada that the patient refused to be changed, and would only accept to be cared for by a particular nurse.

"We note from reading all the documents and meetings with witnesses that the woman has never been restrained," the commissioner's report says.

Patient was agitated and unpredictable, report says

The commissioner's report confirms that the bedridden resident "was sometimes agitated, abrupt and unpredictable because of her diagnoses."

Radio-Canada had reported that staff would flee the room for fear of being physically attacked. A source within the institution said attendants refused to change her incontinence briefs because of her behaviour.

That information was confirmed by two other sources, who said the woman would only allow a single nurse to change her. She would also throw food or drink and would strip off her clothing.

However, the commissioner found the woman was never neglected and the situation flagged by the Red Cross worker was not one that would have warranted staff dropping other tasks to immediately attend to her.

The commissioner recommends improving communication between partners such as the Red Cross and raising their awareness, "so that they understand this clientele and the actions staff take with residents better."

The CHSLD Providence-Saint-Joseph has 155 beds and 131 employees.

Radio-Canada made several attempts to contact management before its report in February, but no one replied.

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