B.C. Seniors Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie (File photo)

B.C. Seniors Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie (File photo)

Seniors advocate plans to speak with IH about heating issue at Kelowna care home

Lake Country woman says her husband’s room has been without proper heat since late December

A petition started by a Lake Country woman to mandate B.C. senior care home facility maintenance has collected more than 560 signatures as of Feb. 18.

Lynn Fanelli started the petition when her husband Paul began living at Spring Valley Care Centre (SVCC) after cancer treatment at Kelowna General Hospital. That was Dec. 19, 2021. It was two days later Fanelli discovered the wing Paul was in lacked adequate heating. He and other residents have had space heaters in their rooms since then. Fanelli’s petition is calling for legislative change. She has taken her complaint to Interior Health (IH), Kelowna-Lake Country MLA, Norm Letnick, and B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie.

“The issue that she’s raising at the end of the day, in terms of legislative ability to remedy, is with licensing at IH,” said Mackenzie. “I don’t have the legislative power to make this care home do anything.”

Fanelli is also concerned that the space heaters could pose a safety risk to residents. Mackenzie said she understands IH licencing and the fire department have been in the building.

“The fire department has gone in and said that the space heaters are safe for an interim solution until the heating system gets fixed,” she said.

She added they (SVCC) need to fix the heating deficiency because it’s not appropriate to have a heating source be space heaters. Mackenzie is planning to speak with representatives at IH about a timeline for remedying the situation.

“It’s unclear to me right now with what I know what more there is to do at this point in time. The concern is there has to be a plan to deal with their heating system, and the plan can’t be space heaters until spring and then worry about it next year.”

Mackenzie said her office will know more once they’ve had the opportunity to speak with the right people at IH.

“When was the last inspection? What deficiencies, if any, were discovered? Is there something that should have been addressed earlier?

It may be a case of the heating system was to be replaced in two years, and now it has to be replaced sooner, she added.

Read More: Lack of heat in husband’s care home has Kelowna woman demanding provincial action

Mackenzie said she can understand why Fanelli is angry.

“I absolutely can understand why she’s upset,” said Mackenzie. “I mean, she’s already upset with the fact her husband has to be in long-term care. That’s compounded by the fact that he’s not comfortable.”

Mackenzie also said there is a robust process in place with her office to deal with complaints.

“If we had a bunch of complaints from a variety of care homes where this was happening, we would then do a systemic investigation. Or if we have a lot of complaints from a particular care home, we would look at whether the health authority was responding appropriately to that. We would be making recommendations to the health authority around what they should do.”

Ultimately if a solution couldn’t be found the individual would be referred to the Patient Care Quality Office (PCQO) at IH, Mackenzie said.

Fanelli has contacted the PCQO and the care home licensing department at IH. She said the PCQO closed her file because they have no ability to enforce it because of current legislation.

Capital News contacted IH requesting an interview with a representative from licencing or PCQO and was provided with an email statement:

“Interior Health’s Licensing team regularly inspects long-term care sites and we have found Spring Valley Care Centre to be in compliance with the requirements laid out in the Residential Care Regulation. Licensing inspections have found that Spring Valley is meeting the regulation to ensure resident rooms are at an appropriate temperature and have found them in compliance with their health and safety plan.”

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