Denise Glover suffers from multiple sclerosis and, with her body shutting down, lives full-time at Yucalta Lodge, where she says she is not getting the services she needs.
Glover, 52, is in a wheelchair, can’t sit up on her own and is often paralyzed by body spasms. A few months ago she moved to Yucalta, a residential care facility, after the crippling disease progressed to the point where her family could no longer take care of her on their own.
As part of Glover’s care at Yucalta, she is supposed to receive physiotherapy to help with her condition but now nearly three months into her stay, Glover said she has yet to receive any such service.
“I was told they have physio here but I haven’t received any,” said Glover. “When my body’s in spasms I can’t move so it’s time consuming for the care attendants and they don’t have a lot of time because there’s not enough staff on the floor.”
Glover figures every shift could benefit from just one extra staff person. She says just to move her alone takes two people.
“VIHA (Vancouver Island Health Authority) needs to put more money into the system for more care workers,” said Glover.
Val Wilson, spokesperson for VIHA, which operates Yucalta, said there is no need for extra staff, and the amount of workers at Yucalta is sufficient.
“There are no staffing shortages at Yucalta,” said Wilson. “The residential staffing model at Yucalta is consistent with all VIHA-funded residential care sites and is guided by the provincial community care licensing branch.”
As well, both physiotherapy and occupational therapy services are available at Yucalta.
Wilson said residents are assessed and provided with those services based on need. Each resident also has a care plan that is updated as necessary to ensure the resident is receiving the appropriate care.
“We are aware that this individual has voiced concerns to care staff and care staff is working with the resident to ensure concerns are addressed,” said Wilson.
Glover admits she has inquired about physio and said the nurses have been working on a plan for her.
Glover is hopeful she will see some progress soon, but in the meantime wants to let others know what it’s like in a care facility.
“I want to bring awareness to the community of what kind of things you’ll be dealing with when you need care,” she said. Sometimes it can be very lonely and Glover said she’ll turn the TV on in her room so it sounds like there are other people around. She often is alone at mealtimes because she is afraid of catching the flu from other residents if she eats in the cafeteria.
Glover was first diagnosed with MS at the age of 28 after complaining of blackouts and double vision. When she was still healthy, she put in countless hours of volunteer work with the MS Society of Canada, helped with Access Awareness Day events and attended meetings at City Hall.
Three years ago, when her family could no longer provide the care she needed, Glover ended up in hospital in Victoria before being brought back to Campbell River. She was originally transferred to New Horizons, where Glover said she was happy.
“I wanted to be at New Horizons because I could get downtown and have a life again,” said Glover. “I could go to Ricky’s for breakfast with my grandma and see the fireworks again in the summer.”
But just three months into her stay, Glover fell sideways off a curb in her wheelchair and landed on her side, fracturing her right hip. After the accident, she was moved to Yucalta. Glover said she enjoys the people at Yucalta and feels safe there but is tired of waiting for the help she so badly wants.
Wilson said VIHA takes complaints like Glover’s “very seriously” and nurses at Yucalta will be addressing Glover’s situation.