Former employees and family members of residents in Echo Village and Fir Park Village continue to protest conditions at both senior care homes in Port Alberni.
Approximately 20 workers, former workers and resident family members rallied in front of both senior care homes on Sept. 28 to protest what they say are deteriorating conditions at the homes. Kathy Nordstrom-Ruissen said her father moved into one of the homes last July because there were no other options in town. She said family members of residents continue to be concerned that both homes are short-staffed.
At a previous rally in September a union member who did not want to be identified said there have been upwards of 100 grievances made against management at both homes. A union spokesperson with the Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) confirmed that number.
Staff and former staff have also voiced a number of other complaints regarding specific members of management.
“The board won’t listen to us,” one of the protesters said. “Nobody is listening. We’ve gone to the annual general meeting and begged them to listen to us. I don’t know why they don’t.”
Protesters brought their concerns up to Chances RimRock after hearing the board moved their meeting to that location once they found out about the rally. Nordstrom-Ruissen posted on social media that none of the board members had anything to say.
Phone calls to the board chair and executive director went unanswered. City of Port Alberni council representative on the board, Ron Paulson, stated publicly after the September rally that “due to confidentiality issues I am not at liberty to discuss other than a process has begun respecting all concerned. Hopefully there will be a resolution in the near future?”
Island Health responded with an emailed statement: “Island Health is aware of complaints from staff at Fir Park and Echo Village. While Island Health is not the employer of these staff, our long-term care quality oversight team has been meeting regularly with Fir Park and Echo Village employees and management to ensure quality care is provided and assist on quality improvement efforts at the site.
“Staff safety concerns should be directed to WorkSafeBC, while resident and family concerns are best addressed through Island Health’s Patient Care Quality Office.”
— With files from Mike Youds.