Bruce County turns to former ONA negotiator to look at Brucelea Haven

Staff and family members of Brucelea Haven residents watch as Bruce County council debates the hiring of a consultant in the wake of a provincial report outlining ongoing non-compliance issues. (Photo by Jordan MacKinnon)

The Bruce County council chambers were filled a week after the province released a scathing report outlining repeated non-compliance findings at Walkerton’s Brucelea Haven long-term care home.

County councillors ultimately followed a recommendation from Brockton Mayor and Homes Committee Chair Chris Peabody to hire former Ontario Nurses Association chief negotiator Carol De Rosie as a consultant to help bring the home back into compliance with provincial regulations.

Peabody said it was his understanding that the situation at Brucelea Haven had been improving after a January report initially brought to light the staffing shortages plaguing the home that lead to non-compliance orders.

The report dated July 25 outlined 31 written non-compliance issues, and resulted in the home being forced to temporarily halt admissions until compliance is achieved.

Peabody described the situation at Brucelea Haven as a “crisis” and admitted it was not until a staff picket in May that he became aware that the situation had continued to deteriorate.

“The first time, I thought things were under control, and it wasn’t until May that I learned things were not under control, so there was five months where I thought things were improving, those were the reports I was getting,” said Peabody. “Then, all of the sudden, the whole thing blows up again, it blew up in January, it blows up in July.”

Peabody said he would not pin the blame on senior management or any individuals until De Rosie is given an opportunity to table her findings.

Crystal McDonald, a personal support worker and chief union steward at Brucelea Haven, said staff are doing their best with limited resources and support.

“We have staff that are in their cars before their shift crying, not knowing what they’re going to walk in to, they’re crying at the end of their shift in their cars because there’s so much work to do and we’re offered very limited resources to do that job,” said McDonald. “Everybody is working short-staffed, they’re putting in many, many hours of overtime.”