Summerland care home under investigation

Man discovered unconscious in room after family unable to reach him by phone for several days

Alfredo Bonaldi

Alfredo Bonaldi

Multiple investigations are now underway to find out why staff at a Summerland care home failed to check on the well-being of a resident who nearly died alone in his room but has since begun to recover.

Alfredo Bonaldi, 91, was taken to hospital in Penticton on Nov. 25 and treated for kidney failure, salmonella poisoning and a staph infection, according to son-in-law Gil Inglis.

It was Inglis who discovered Bonaldi unconscious and near death in his room at the Summerland Seniors Village after the family was unable to reach Bonaldi by phone for several days.

Despite a grim prognosis early on, Bonaldi is beginning to show signs of improvement, Inglis said Tuesday.

“It’s day-to-day. You go in one day and he’s kind of out of it and sleeping, and the next time he’s a little bit more alert,” Inglis said. “So that’s a good thing.”

The son-in-law said Bonaldi has also begun to recognize his daughters and told relatives he was having difficulty talking due to the oxygen tubes to which he’s attached.

Inglis said Bonaldi had been in good health while living in an assisted-living suite at the Summerland Seniors Village, but was incapacitated by a suspected case of food poisoning and didn’t show up in the facility’s dining room for lunch or dinner in the three days preceding his trip to hospital.

Bonaldi’s absence at meal times should have been noted by facility staff and prompted a well-being check, Inglis said. But that didn’t happen, and Interior Health, the B.C. Ministry of Health and facility operator Retirement Concepts have all since launched investigations to find out why.

“We’ve been happy with the place. The food’s edible, it’s a nice, bright airy place and everything’s been good. They just can’t ignore people for days,” Inglis said.

“That has to be addressed somehow or another. They’ve got to put in some kind of safety (policy) if people don’t show up for meals day after day.”

Retirement Concepts didn’t return calls for comment, but a spokesman has told other news outlets that the company is investigating why staff didn’t follow the facility’s check-up policy when Bonaldi failed to show for meals.

Inglis said the company apologized to the family on Sunday and a meeting with Interior Health was set for Tuesday.

Interior Health issued a press release Saturday to announce it had placed a clinical consultant at Summerland Seniors Village “to ensure appropriate care is being delivered to residents,” and work with staff and management “to address concerns and improve care.”

Cindy Regier, who looks after residential care licensing in the region for Interior Health, said Friday that a separate quality investigative review was underway as a result of complaints from Bonaldi’s family.

Those complaints were in addition to others that prompted two unannounced inspections at the facility in recent months.

Regier said only that those probes were launched “in response to concerns,” but added that due to the ongoing investigation she was unable to disclose the nature of those concerns nor by whom they were brought forward.

The first review, conducted Oct. 31, detailed seven areas of concern, according to records posted online. Issues identified ranged from a lack of documentation and policy around the use of restraints to unsafe food storage. However, investigators also noted the absence of a facility policy around the ongoing education of staff and managers, and that the home had no educator on staff.

Regier said 75 beds at Summerland Seniors Village are currently under contract to Interior Health.

The facility offers 120 assisted-living beds for people who require minimal help, plus 120 residential-care beds for those who require assistance from nurses.

Summerland Seniors Village also came under fire in 2006 when an employee was fired for rough treatment of a patient, and again in 2007 when another employee pleaded guilty to stealing and using patients’ credit cards.