She was let go from the long-term-care home she worked at for more than 25 years. She says it’s because she complained about conditions at the home

A personal support worker who worked at an Extendicare long-term-care home says she was let go from her job after she raised concerns about the quality of care her patients received.Anne-Marie Scheuneman told the Star that she was fired after she brought forward allegations about how a lack of staff, cost-cutting measures and an overall culture of fear and intimidation by senior-level management led to a decrease in the quality of life for residents at Extendicare Peterborough — long before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Scheuneman worked at Extendicare Peterborough for more than 25 years.A spokesperson for Extendicare told the Star that Scheuneman’s dismissal was not related to the allegations she raised about the quality of care patients received. The Star has viewed a notice of termination issued to Scheuneman on May 3, 2019 that specifies she was let go for “inappropriate and insubordinate behaviour,” as well as “disparaging and inappropriate comments.” Extendicare acknowledged that complaints were made by Scheuneman about the quality of patient care.“We worked closely with the local union in this process, which ultimately chose to withdraw its complaint. Sometime later, a similar anonymous complaint was made to the College of Nurses and Ministry of Labour which resulted in investigations conducted by both bodies. Their conclusions also determined the allegations were without merit.”The spokesperson added that while the company does “not typically speak on issues regarding former employees, it is important we make clear that these allegations are false.” Scheuneman’s dismissal led to a grievance with her union, SEIU Healthcare, she said. In order to be reinstated to her position, Scheuneman was told she must write an apology letter to management — something she refused. She did not return to the home.Extendicare, which has 111 owned and managed homes across Canada, according to the company’s corporate profile, has come under scrutiny like other for-profit operators, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents in for-profit homes are more likely than residents in not-for-profit facilities to catch the virus. The situation in Ontario’s care homes has continued to worsen, and as of Saturday, 3,112 long-term-care residents have died since the pandemic began. Under former Ontario Premier Mike Harris’s government, minimum staffing levels for nursing homes were removed, leading to some facilities experiencing a shortage of support workers. Scheuneman described instances where baths for residents were recorded in patient documents, but were never performed due to shortages in the number of staff available for shifts. PSWs at Extendicare Peterborough were not given flexibility for when tasks could be performed, and an overall lack of staff meant there were not enough people to perform every piece of resident care that was required, she said.The Star spoke with a current Extendicare Peterborough employee, as well as a former one, who worked alongside Scheuneman and both agreed that this was the case. “I know for a fact that (some baths) didn’t get done,” the current employee said. Neither are being named by the Star due to concerns about reprisals.The Star asked Extendicare about allegations that patient care, including proper bathing, was not always performed. A spokesperson for the company said “the allegations outlined in your email are not reflective of the findings from multiple investigations by the local union, the College of Nurses and Ministry of Labour. Their conclusions determined the allegations were without merit.”Scheuneman, along with both the former and current Extendicare Peterborough employees, spoke about a culture of fear among staff of upper-level management. After new management was brought in more than four years ago, Scheuneman and the other two PSWs allege they were berated and yelled at while on shift.Extendicare’s spokesperson told the Star, “Extendicare Peterborough’s resident satisfaction survey is consistently strong and staff surveys are clearly supportive of management.”Scheuneman also said under the new management she felt Extendicare was working with lighter staffing and “trying to get as much out of us as they possibly could in a shift — but there’s only so much a person can give physically in a seven-and-a-half hour shift,” Scheuneman said. “Most of the staff were giving up their breaks, coming in early, staying late. Extendicare was given a lot of free hours, and it still wasn’t meeting the mark” for patient care, she said.The Extendicare spokesperson said that the home “had a full staffing complement” through Scheuneman’s employment. The Star has found job postings for personal support workers at the care home listed as recently as Dec. 9, 2020.“We are always recruiting new team members and continue to add further resources to increase support for residents and staff in the home,” Extendicare’s spokesperson said. Requests made by the Star through Extendicare to interview management a

She was let go from the long-term-care home she worked at for more than 25 years. She says it’s because she complained about conditions at the home

A personal support worker who worked at an Extendicare long-term-care home says she was let go from her job after she raised concerns about the quality of care her patients received.

Anne-Marie Scheuneman told the Star that she was fired after she brought forward allegations about how a lack of staff, cost-cutting measures and an overall culture of fear and intimidation by senior-level management led to a decrease in the quality of life for residents at Extendicare Peterborough — long before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Scheuneman worked at Extendicare Peterborough for more than 25 years.

A spokesperson for Extendicare told the Star that Scheuneman’s dismissal was not related to the allegations she raised about the quality of care patients received.

The Star has viewed a notice of termination issued to Scheuneman on May 3, 2019 that specifies she was let go for “inappropriate and insubordinate behaviour,” as well as “disparaging and inappropriate comments.”

Extendicare acknowledged that complaints were made by Scheuneman about the quality of patient care.

“We worked closely with the local union in this process, which ultimately chose to withdraw its complaint. Sometime later, a similar anonymous complaint was made to the College of Nurses and Ministry of Labour which resulted in investigations conducted by both bodies. Their conclusions also determined the allegations were without merit.”

The spokesperson added that while the company does “not typically speak on issues regarding former employees, it is important we make clear that these allegations are false.”

Scheuneman’s dismissal led to a grievance with her union, SEIU Healthcare, she said. In order to be reinstated to her position, Scheuneman was told she must write an apology letter to management — something she refused. She did not return to the home.

Extendicare, which has 111 owned and managed homes across Canada, according to the company’s corporate profile, has come under scrutiny like other for-profit operators, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents in for-profit homes are more likely than residents in not-for-profit facilities to catch the virus.

The situation in Ontario’s care homes has continued to worsen, and as of Saturday, 3,112 long-term-care residents have died since the pandemic began.

Under former Ontario Premier Mike Harris’s government, minimum staffing levels for nursing homes were removed, leading to some facilities experiencing a shortage of support workers.

Scheuneman described instances where baths for residents were recorded in patient documents, but were never performed due to shortages in the number of staff available for shifts. PSWs at Extendicare Peterborough were not given flexibility for when tasks could be performed, and an overall lack of staff meant there were not enough people to perform every piece of resident care that was required, she said.

The Star spoke with a current Extendicare Peterborough employee, as well as a former one, who worked alongside Scheuneman and both agreed that this was the case. “I know for a fact that (some baths) didn’t get done,” the current employee said.

Neither are being named by the Star due to concerns about reprisals.

The Star asked Extendicare about allegations that patient care, including proper bathing, was not always performed. A spokesperson for the company said “the allegations outlined in your email are not reflective of the findings from multiple investigations by the local union, the College of Nurses and Ministry of Labour. Their conclusions determined the allegations were without merit.”

Scheuneman, along with both the former and current Extendicare Peterborough employees, spoke about a culture of fear among staff of upper-level management. After new management was brought in more than four years ago, Scheuneman and the other two PSWs allege they were berated and yelled at while on shift.

Extendicare’s spokesperson told the Star, “Extendicare Peterborough’s resident satisfaction survey is consistently strong and staff surveys are clearly supportive of management.”

Scheuneman also said under the new management she felt Extendicare was working with lighter staffing and “trying to get as much out of us as they possibly could in a shift — but there’s only so much a person can give physically in a seven-and-a-half hour shift,” Scheuneman said.

“Most of the staff were giving up their breaks, coming in early, staying late. Extendicare was given a lot of free hours, and it still wasn’t meeting the mark” for patient care, she said.

The Extendicare spokesperson said that the home “had a full staffing complement” through Scheuneman’s employment.

The Star has found job postings for personal support workers at the care home listed as recently as Dec. 9, 2020.

“We are always recruiting new team members and continue to add further resources to increase support for residents and staff in the home,” Extendicare’s spokesperson said.

Requests made by the Star through Extendicare to interview management at the home directly were not granted.

The current employee said that Extendicare management does not listen to concerns from staff about the quality of care. “If you go down and say this should be done or that should be done … (they) don’t want to hear it. They want to hear everything’s run (smoothly).”

Extendicare’s spokesperson said staff in all homes are encouraged to come to management with any concerns and suggestions so that they can be addressed immediately.

Scheuneman’s time at Extendicare Peterborough led her to experience anxiety and significant weight loss, and take a seven-month leave of absence to handle the stress following a panic attack while on shift, she said.

“I’m not disgruntled,” Scheuneman said of her decision to come forward about her experiences.

“I’m just really concerned as a citizen.”

Jenna Moon is a breaking news reporter for the Star and is based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @_jennamoon

Source : Toronto Star More