The mother of an in-care, overdose victim calls the government response to her plea for regulations specific to addiction treatment centres “disappointing but not surprising.”
Michelle Jansen has been an outspoken advocate for the development of rules for such facilities since her son Brandon died at age 20 from a fentanyl overdose in his room at the Sunshine Coast Health Centre in Powell River on March 7, 2016.
“The ‘however’ part of it is that they (the province) state that patient care and security needs to be top priority but there really is no timeline or a plan developed to address the regulatory requirements. That’s what’s so desperately needed,” said Jansen. “And that’s, of course, one of the 21 recommendations that came out of the coroner’s inquest. There has been more deaths in treatment facilities since my son died.”
When her office was contacted this week by the Western News, Judy Darcy, minister of the new Mental Health and Addictions Ministry, was too busy speak on the matter personally. Ministry staff provided the following written statement from the minister.
“We agree that patient safety and security needs to be a top priority at all substance use treatment centres and we recognize that there may be ways we can improve services for people in these centres, including strengthening Residential Care Regulations. The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions will be working collaboratively with stakeholders and partners to explore opportunities for safety and security enhancements in these facilities, as part of our work to improve the system of care for mental illness and addictions.”
As a way to try and help prevent deaths similar to her son’s, Jansen is opening the Brandon Jansen Memorial Recovery Centre on Juniper Drive in Penticton next month.
She is starting with six beds with the intention of expanding to 12 in the future.
And while the minister said there was not “enough information” about pending applications for new treatment centres in Penticton she stated “The death of Brandon Jansen was a tragedy, and I have the utmost sympathy for Brandon’s mother, Michelle Jansen, and his family and friends.”
There were indications after his death that Brandon got the drugs delivered to his room with the help of another patient in the early morning hours that day, just before he died.
Jansen is hoping to meet with Darcy as early as next week to discuss the matter.
“What I’m going to explain to the minister in great detail is how it is that Brandon died,” said Jansen. “All the things that should have been done, that is their role and that this requires action now.
“I simply can’t keep opening my phones every couple of days and see more people are dying.”
Daycare centres and residential substance abuse treatment centres are licensed under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act and treatment centres must follow Residential Care Regulations which include admissions screening, dispute resolution, menu planning, resident and family councils, care planning and medication.
However Jansen doesn’t feel those regulations apply to the addiction treatment regime.
“The Residential Care Regulations don’t mandate any of the parameters that are required to keep people safe and to ensure that those people are getting the appropriate medical and therapeutic care they require,” said Jansen. “I tell you it was the biggest shock to me when I realized as an outcome of the coroner’s inquest that nothing like that exists. Now looking back at all the (12) treatment centres Brandon went to and how haphazard and how lax it was and how hard I had to fight to get him weekly one-on-one counselling.”
It’s that urgency and need that compelled her to open her own centre, where she plans to raise the treatment bar in areas of site security, one-on-one counselling, aftercare services for clients and more.
Programs include 30, 60 and 90 days with extensions.
“The government is responsible for putting that framework in place because if they don’t people will continue to die in very high numbers,” said Jansen. “Right now decent choices for families to try and save their loved ones, in my opinion, really doesn’t exist and more and more people are going to continue to die, just like my son did.”