Sunday, February 19, 2017

SEND A MESSAGE Join us as we call on Points West Living to negotiate a fair contract and put people before profits. Visit www.pwlprobe.com to send a message to the company’s directors and executives and MLAs of the ridings where Points West Living operates--The NDP are no different than the PCs who are no different than the Liberals. Private care by non-profits and for profits will continue on. The government of Alberta has no interest in seniors or their care in facilities of this kind. The government of Alberta has no interest in labour disputes that ask the public good questions about the staffing levels and care received by our most defenceless citizens. What we have present is cynical governance for the sake of the dollar bill, the dollar bill yo!---------The problem can’t be credited to a lack of money. According to the AUPE website, “After a sale in 2015 valued at approximately $100 million, all PWL sites are owned by the same Ontario based company. In the year before the sale PWL profits increased 46%, rising from $864,593 to $1,262,636. The company expects to increase its value to $500 million over the next 3 to 5 years. PWL’s CEO Doug Mills, and Vice-President of Human Resources and Administration Paul Melanson each own an 8.3 percent share in Points West Inc. profits in addition to their regular salaries and additional compensation. In 2015 these bonuses were set at $175,000 for Rath and Melanson and $250,000 for Mills.-------Again this is from the AUPE website: “Between 2008 and 2013, PWL received more than $32 million of public funding to build six facilities, as well as operating funding of $25,000-$65,000/per bed and additional funding for medical equipment and facility upgrades.”---


What we have present is cynical governance for the sake of the dollar bill, the dollar bill yo!

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In this report below--on the Points West Living lockout there is a comment about how this lockout happened despite the presence of the NDP in power.


In reality the truth is that these lockouts will continue no matter who we have in power because all political parties are only committed to the dollar bill, the dollar bill yo!
The mandate of the government of Alberta is to transform continuing care into a downloaded service where the government and health authorities will be banks. As such families and workers are by themselves in dealing with the problems of downloaded services to a mostly privatized continuing care sector. This private sector will have not for profits and for profits dominating the care and issues will be raised that the money is not enough for all that is required for residents. But is this really true?
If we look at the sales of some of these continuing care businesses, big money is involved as noted here:
http://peoplesvoice.ca/2017/02/15/cold-lake-seniors-care-lockout/

COLD LAKE SENIORS CARE LOCKOUT
PV STAFF ALBERTA, BUREAUS, FEATURES FEBRUARY 15, 2017
It is hard to understand how with a majority NDP Government we are having labour conflicts like the one with Points West Living in Cold Lake.

On a very cold Feb. 3 I attended a rally of about l50 strikers and supporters in front of the PWL Office (which had conveniently moved) about their lockout on Dec.16th.

PWL is one of the most profitable and fastest growing for-profit seniors providers operating in Alberta. They receive millions in taxpayer dollars and retain a portion in profit, but how this money is spent is not disclosed to the public.

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees represents 160 employees who have been bargaining for a fair contract at four PWL facilities. The facility in Cold Lake joined the union two years ago but still cannot get a first contract. This is an old story in Alberta, where labour laws do not make getting a first contract easy, even with an NDP government.

The problem can’t be credited to a lack of money. According to the AUPE website, “After a sale in 2015 valued at approximately $100 million, all PWL sites are owned by the same Ontario based company. In the year before the sale PWL profits increased 46%, rising from $864,593 to $1,262,636. The company expects to increase its value to $500 million over the next 3 to 5 years. PWL’s CEO Doug Mills, and Vice-President of Human Resources and Administration Paul Melanson each own an 8.3 percent share in Points West Inc. profits in addition to their regular salaries and additional compensation. In 2015 these bonuses were set at $175,000 for Rath and Melanson and $250,000 for Mills.

Again this is from the AUPE website: “Between 2008 and 2013, PWL received more than $32 million of public funding to build six facilities, as well as operating funding of $25,000-$65,000/per bed and additional funding for medical equipment and facility upgrades.”

The emphasis at the rally was not on wages, but working conditions. Most staff work part-time or casually, and they want solutions to problems of short staffing, arbitrary scheduling and concerns about training. This includes respect for seniority. The casual nature of the work force does drive wages down, but more seriously offers much degraded care to the seniors. The relationship between staff, and with the residents, is more difficult to maintain. Regulations in this field are in much need of improvement. Because there aren’t any strict ratios of staff to residents, staff can be severely overworked, which deteriorates the ability to care well for residents.

The issue of training and regulations was also brought up. As frontline workers, these are employees who can witness the neglect and abuse of those in great need, and their voices should be heard.

Union negotiator John Weaver said that most private for-profits have similar problems, and that 60% of senior care facilities are private for-profit. This contract has far-reaching implications for care of seniors, because there are first contracts at the Stettler and Slave Lake sites, as well as re-negotiations at Century Park and Heritage House. Profiteering off both residents and workers should be challenged, along with quality of care. With its profits and taxpayers’ money, the company is housing replacement workers in hotels at great cost, to break the union. Ultimately this will be used against us all, if this is how we will be cared for in our old age.

For more information, visit www.pwlprobe.com; this site will help you to send a letter to the government.

Tagged: Alberta, Alberta Politics, NDP, Rachel Notley, v25n3


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And so what is going on?

If we look at just PWL we find out that major public dollars are going to the payment of building the property base of the company as well as for operating funding. It's such a waste of cash in my mind to subsidize the development of a real estate empire in return for care provision that some citizens are not satisfied with and certainly the labour sector seems to be having troubles with as evidenced by this lockout.
http://peoplesvoice.ca/2017/02/15/cold-lake-seniors-care-lockout/

Again this is from the AUPE website: “Between 2008 and 2013, PWL received more than $32 million of public funding to build six facilities, as well as operating funding of $25,000-$65,000/per bed and additional funding for medical equipment and facility upgrades.”


Wow. That is a ton of cash. Now where is the value for the money spent?
Where is the auditor general in all of this? We need to know as the public if we are getting good value for all this investment in other people's properties that leaves us holding no assets. Mind you we don't have to bother with the labour problems directly nor do we have the government bothering about care of seniors but we have these other problems of value for money and staffing issues that are left to the private operators.

It does feel that the drive is to ensure that unions are not involved in the staffing of continuing care facilities. What does this mean for citizens?  I guess it means more downsizing of staff, less educated staff and lower staff: resident ratios.  Once unions are gone we will have no way for staff to ensure that there are proper staffing levels at these places and don't think families are going to be able to negotiate better staffing because there is no way that individual families can do anything about the situation in any of these private or for that matter public sector continuing care places. We are all basically chess pieces moved around and the only real hope for the future of our most vulnerable citizens is an all out rebellion by citizens at every election to boot out the political party that is currently unable to refresh this mess.

The NDP are no different than the PCs who are no different than the Liberals.

Private care by non-profits and for profits will continue on. 
The government of Alberta has no interest in seniors or their care in facilities of this kind.
The government of Alberta has no interest in labour disputes that ask the public good questions about the staffing levels and care received by our most defenceless citizens.
What we have present is cynical governance for the sake of the dollar bill, the dollar bill yo!

We only have the probe into the profits made by these companies when unions are in lockout mode as noted here:

https://d10k7k7mywg42z.cloudfront.net/assets/57b224a2d4c9610469098de0/16183PointsWest_Newsletter_Vol2.pdf
POINTS WEST LIVING PROBE
Corporate centralization impacts staff and residents
Following a sale valued at approximately $100 million, Ontario-based Points West Limited Partnership moved to centralize services in Edmonton for its Alberta facilities. The move has led to concerns from both residents and staff. “Our members have reported increased errors with their pay after the company began processing its payroll in Edmonton,” said AUPE Negotiator John Wevers. “These workers are already struggling to make ends meet and these errors make their financial balancing act even more challenging.” The majority of Points West Living employees represented by AUPE are employed on a part-time or casual basis at an average wage of approximately $21/hour. Only a minority of employees are employed full-time. Points West Living residents and their family members have also been impacted by the corporate centralization. Some family members and staff have raised concerns about the turnaround time for medications, especially in cases where errors need to be corrected. The change has also impacted local economies where pharmacies in the area had been supplying medication. Increased rental rates for residents were also part of the business plan for the amalgamated company. Sale documents revealed the company planned to increase its revenues coming from rental rates and other resident fees beginning this year. Increases took effect at Century Park in Vegreville on July 1. Yet despite the move toward centralization, Points West Living has consistently refused to harmonize wages and working conditions for staff at its facilities. AUPE represents staff at four facilities in Vegreville, Cold Lake and Stettler, some of whom have been in
negotiations for new collective agreements with the company for over a year. “Negotiations have been delayed by the company’s insistence on bargaining each contract separately and their refusal to standardize working conditions,” said Wevers. “It’s a double standard when they centralize their operations but continue to pursue a divide-and-conquer approach to their employees.


 “Eden Model” at odds with low-wage, casualized staffing
Points West Living professes to follow the Eden Model of Care, an approach to seniors care that emphasizes residents’ individuality and choice. However, cuts to staffing, increased workloads for existing employees and high staff turnover at their facilities contradict the goals of the Eden Model. According to the company’s website, the Eden philosophy focuses on “wellness rather than illness” in creating communities “where medical treatment is the servant of genuine human caring, rather than its master.” At the core of this philosophy is an emphasis on choice: “Residents decide when they rest, when they rise, and when their suites are cleaned.” However, Points West Living does not maintain the staffing levels necessary to provide such flexibility while still ensuring that residents’ health and personal care needs are met. Long-term employees have seen their workloads increase, and hours for support staff such as recreational therapists have been cut back. High staff turnover and casual or parttime employment means that caregivers are unable to form long-term relationships with residents and their family members. Without these relationships, staff are not able to recognize each resident’s individuality and respect their unique preferences. Staff retention is a particular concern at Points West Living Cold Lake. Nearly half of the employees have been there for less than a year. Wages below industry standards, high cost of living, and oil and gas layoffs affecting other family and community members have contributed to high staff turnover.
Yet despite these problems, the company is considering further staff cuts which would lead to further increased workloads and even less one-on-one time with residents. In April, Points West Living announced that they intended to lay off more Licensed Practical Nurses at the same time as hiring a new “Wellness Supervisor.” “Simply talking about wellness on glossy brochures and websites falls short of a genuine commitment to quality care for Alberta seniors,” said AUPE Vice-President Mike Dempsey. “Quality care can only occur when staff are treated respectfully and compensated fairly. Only then will you see long-term relationships develop that respect the unique needs and personalities of each resident.

For-profit seniors care funded by taxpayer dollars

Points West Living is Alberta’s largest privately owned operator of supporting living residences. The company also receives millions of dollars of taxpayer funding each year to build and operate their facilities. Yet it may surprise many Albertans to learn that this profitable company does not need to publicly report how it uses taxpayer funds it receives. Although Points West Living is already the largest for-profit player in seniors care in Alberta, the company has plans to expand aggressively. Point West Living purchased Connecting Care, which operated seven properties under the Points West Living name, for $100 million in 2015. Steve Suske, who spearheaded the sale, plans to expand the company’s value to $500 million over the next three to five years. Between 2008 and 2013, Alberta Health Services (AHS) gave the company more than $32 million to build six facilities. Ongoing operating funding from AHS to operators like Points West Living averaged between $25,000 and $65,500 per bed in 2014/15. Additional AHS funding is also available to cover expenses such as medical equipment and facility upgrades. However, it is not possible for Points West Living residents, staff or other concerned Albertans to learn how seniors care operators like Points West Living are using taxpayer funds. For example, although AHS provides funding intended to cover wages for frontline workers, it does not prevent companies from diverting a part of those funds to other purposes. The dollar figures for Points West Living corporate profit and taxpayer funding are all the more staggering when compared to compensation for frontline workers.
The average wage for Points West Living employees represented by AUPE is approximately $21/hour, and most staff members are employed on a casual or parttime basis.
SEND A MESSAGE Join us as we call on Points West Living to negotiate a fair contract and put people before profits. Visit www.pwlprobe.com to send a message to the company’s directors and executives and MLAs of the ridings where Points West Living operates
You can also send a letter to: Points West Limited Partnership 2375 Carrington Place Oakville, Ontario L6J 5P5 Phone: 613-739-8538 Fax: 613-739-7440
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Gotta admire the Alberta way.
Government doesn't do much.
They download work to the health authority.
Alberta Health subsidizes the infrastructure investments of private developers with public dollars.
Then they have AHS give the supporting cash for other stuff like medical equipment and facility upgrades plus medical care of the citizens.
Money for the citizens themselves is a novel matter it seems.
As for the staff? It's cheap, casual and continually changing.

This sort of abdication of responsibility to seniors is endemic in the GOA. In my opinion, it will continue until the public does it's job of getting government to do the job of senior care and handicapped citizen care in the right way-offering integrated care plans, services and supports that are the right of handicapped citizens to receive plus the value for money audits to prove to us that we are getting value for our dollars and that citizens are getting the money rather than the top performing CEOs.

It's a shame we can't get better governance with the NDP but then again, I don't think the Wildrose will make any difference in the next round.
It's families who make the difference.
Our stories will provide the real life documents of what the heck is going on in the continuing care system and what this means for other families.

Of course, this might take decades and really is anyone interested?

I'd say I am.
Are you?

I'd say as more and more Alberta families are impacted by the problems of downloading care to private operators versus public facilities we might see more reports in newspapers of care problems that for the most part are kept out of the view of the citizens of Alberta.  I mean we do get accommodation reports but the Quality Audits, the AHS audits, the CCHSS audits, the PPIC reports do not get put up on the public website that temporarily holds the accommodation audits. Why? Who knows? I mean they are all up on the website for Ontario.

In any case it is too late for the family of Olga Penner. We will have a few reports in the newspaper, then there will be audits done and put away. We will forget this case. We will go on our way. Until the next death in continuing care in Alberta. This sort of tragedy won't impact you until it is one of your own.



http://www.coldlakesun.com/2017/02/15/family-of-elderly-woman-wondering-if-level-of-care-at-points-west-living-contributed-to-death

Family of elderly woman wondering if level of care at Points West Living contributed to death.

Jesse Cole / Cold Lake Sun.
Friday, February 17, 2017 2:21:57 MST PM
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POINTS WEST LIVING – The family of an elderly woman who died earlier this month after being removed from care at the Points West Living community is alleging that inadequate care contributed to the woman’s death.
Olga Penner, an 85-year-old sufferer of Alzheimer’s disease, died earlier this month in Cold Lake hospital just days after her family removed her from assisted living care at Points West Living where she had been a resident since November of 2016. Penner was taken via ambulance to hospital after her family says they became fed up with what the treatment she was receiving. In the days since Penner’s death, both Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Points West Living have opened investigations into Penner’s care and death.
Penner’s family say they moved her to assisted living community in late 2016 and said the care she received initially was up to snuff.
“The staff was great with her,” said Penner’s daughter-in-law, Diana Penner. “Olga could walk around, eat, drink and was doing very well independently there. Although her memory was very short-term, we visited her up to four times a week and she was in good spirit and health.”
Diana says that changed in the weeks after Points West Living issued a lockout of staff after ongoing labour dispute negotiations broke down between Points West Living and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employee’s (AUPE) staff members.
Diana told the Sun that under  third-party replacement workers, she felt that the care her mother-in-law received dropped dramatically. Diana alleges that Penner was not properly fed, endured untreated bedsores and that her hygiene was ignored. Diana says her mother-in-law ceased eating and became uncooperative with staff, adding that staff would regularly ask her for help in changing, feeding and otherwise caring for Penner.
“Since the strike, [replacement staff] would call me at home or catch me when I was visiting to help give her a bath, help her change, or to see if she will [sic] eat… Quite a few times I came in to help them and then I said ‘enough.’  I wanted to come and see her and visit her – not be doing the job of the staff and I told the head nurse at the time,” Diana said.
The family also alleges to have visited on numerous occasions to find Penner in soiled and dirty clothing as well as once finding their family member asleep on the floor, rather than in her bed.
Since removing Penner and her subsequent death, investigations have been opened into the alleged mistreatment by both the AHS and Points West Living. AHS issued a statement on the incident saying,
“Our hearts go out to this patient’s family and loved ones, and our thoughts are with them during this difficult time. We’ve reached out to the family to express our condolences and continue to be available to them to answer any questions or concerns they may have…  Alberta Health Services has initiated a Quality Assurance Review to determine details of the care provided to this patient.”
Timothy Wilson, a press secretary with the Government of Alberta, stated that other measures have also been taken including a “head-to-toe” physical assessment by an AHS team of registered nurses and a care manager as well as having an AHS registered nurse case manager on site at Points West Living every day.
“...AHS will act on any recommendations from the internal review that could help improve care in the future, and expects the facility to do the same. We will continue to work closely with Points West Living to ensure timely, effective care is provided, uninterrupted, despite the ongoing labour dispute.”
Points West Living also commented on the incident with CEO Doug Mills saying,
“The health and safety of residents is the foremost priority of Points West Living.  An internal investigation has been launched by our management team to review the brief time the resident spent at Points West Living Cold Lake.  Points West Living has welcomed an external investigation by Alberta Health Services and is cooperating fully with AHS.”
Mills also added that, prior to Penner’s removal by her family, Points West Living management  had scheduled a meeting with the family to discuss the deterioration of Penner’s health.


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Meanwhile staff are stuck outside the facility with no way to help the residents. It's ridiculous and the NDP government needs to do the job of ending privatisation of continuing care in Alberta.

https://www.facebook.com/yourAUPE/posts/10154918364315970:0
Humans of Cold Lake #ColdLakeLockout
“It’s been the better part of a month since the lockout began. I've been having a hard time leaving the picket line, I want to be there all the time. I want the residents to know that I'm trying so hard to come back to them. Today I was out there from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. I have gone too many days without seeing those friendly faces whom I love.
I get so happy when a resident comes out and visits us. It makes my motivation grow stronger. The replacement workers are making the residents stay in their rooms all day and night, they're making them eat in their rooms all alone. Triple the staff and they still can't wash the dishes. They're also unable to get some people showered. Today we heard that there were five replacement workers up on the second floor, but it smelt like urine and stool and garbages weren't taken out for a week. All the scabs were in the TV room, neglecting our residents.
I can't imagine what the residents are going through or feeling. It makes me cry. They deserve so much more than this. It took everything in me to not go inside those doors today. I haven't taken a day off yet. I feel closer to them when I'm on the line. As soon as I leave the picket line I'm missing it, I'm missing being close to them and potentially seeing them. The residents are lonely and crying for us. But yet when we tell the replacement workers that, they laugh. I was raised to treat my elders with respect. Apparently they weren't. Every day this lockout gets harder and harder. Every day I'm getting more motivated. I miss you guys.”

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