Malnourished senior concerns raised at Legislature

The children of a Regina senior believe their mother died prematurely last year at least in part because of the treatment she received in a long-term care home.

The case of Margaret Warholm, 74, who died Oct. 6, 2013, was raised Wednesday at the Saskatchewan Legislature by the opposition NDP.

Warholm’s children also spoke to media about the case and said their mother was in the Santa Maria Seniors Citizen Home due to a condition known as spinal stenosis — a narrowing of the spaces in the spine. The condition can cause pain, numbness and other health issues.

The children said their mother’s condition deteriorated after she was dropped, in August of 2013, when care aides were trying to move her into a wheelchair.

Hospital finds malnourishment, bedsores

On Oct. 3, 2013, Warholm was admitted to hospital with abdominal pain. There, the family said nurses expressed surprise at the size of a bedsore they found on Warholm’s back.

“A nurse had gasped at the hospital,” Leanna Macfarlane, Warholm’s daughter-in-law, said Wednesday. “And my sister-in-law went in and looked and took a picture of it. It wasn’t a quarter, it was her entire back and it was torn. That was the first thing that devastated us.”

Nancy Macfarlane, Warholm’s daughter, said the family had no idea the bedsore was as large as it was. She said the family had been told, from the senior’s home, it was much smaller.

[WARNING: The bedsore image may not be suitable for all audiences]

“If we would have known, we would have done something for her,” Macfarlane said. “But we didn’t know. They just told us it was the size of a quarter and it wasn’t. We would have done something. We feel guilty.”

Hospital records show Warholm was also noted as being malnourished, had fractures in her spine and was in severe pain.

In a letter to the family, the executive director of the Santa Maria care home expressed regret about the case and acknowledged that the care provided “should have been better managed” and promised improvements in the future, including re-training staff.


Family of Margaret Warholm said hospital staff were surprised to find a significant bedsore when the senior was admitted following a stay at a nursing home. (Courtesy: Family of Margaret Warholm)

The opposition repeated its call for the province to legislate minimum care standards for senior care facilities.

During Question Period Wednesday, NDP Leader Cam Broten said Warholm’s condition, when she was admitted to hospital, suggests neglect at the Santa Maria. Broten also referenced the large bedsore on Warholm’s back and hospital notes about her being “emaciated”.

Broten said the care facility was struggling with a lack of staff and there is a need for regulated minimum care standards to prevent similar cases in the future.

Minister suggests Ombudsman review

Health Minister Dustin Duncan said senior care is a priority for the government and there are expectations laid out for facilities.

Duncan added that while he believes cases such as Warholm’s are rare, they are unacceptable. He recommended the family take the case to the provincial Ombudsman for a review.


CBC News Posted: Nov 19, 2014 5:20 PM CT

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *