Tenants at nursing home want handrails installed

Three tenants at Northwood Homecare Inc. moved out of their residence last Wednesday after a tenant suffered minor injuries, due to the facility’s lack of handrails.

By Gracie Callahan

Lily Garson and her daughter, Cindy Garson speaking about Northwood Nursing Home.
Lily Garson and her daughter, Cindy Garson, speaking about Northwood nursing home. (Gracie Callahan/Peninsula News)

Three tenants at Northwood Homecare Inc. moved out of their residence last Wednesday after a tenant suffered minor injuries, due to the facility’s lack of handrails.

Thomas Vickson, a manager at the Northwood nursing home, said the residence wants to ensure guests are assisted and well taken care of at all times, so that an incident like this does not happen again.

Vickson confirmed that three guests from the assisted living area had left the residence on March 12, but he said that one already had plans to move prior to the incident.

“We understand our tenants’ and their families’ concern, and we’re acting on it,” Vickson said. “By the end of next month, we should have all rooms fully installed with handrails and other housing aids, so that our residents feel comfortable and safe in their homes.”

Vickson confirmed that the nursing home in downtown Halifax had received five complaints from residents and family members about the lack of handrails available to residents in January. However, he said that the company did not agree to act on it until a guest was recently injured.

Come mid-April, Northwood nursing home will install several grab rails in all of the residents’ bathrooms and living areas, as well as level deck showers in every housing unit to ensure the safety of their guests.

An injured resident

Lily Garson is a 93-year-old former resident at Northwood and now a resident at a Shannex-owned home. She moved a month ago, after a minor slip in the shower caused her to badly strain her neck.

“The housing setup makes residents feel like they’re imprisoned,” Garson said of Northwood. “I wouldn’t consider it a home. It’s more of a hotel.”

Garson said she does not know of any other nursing home that does not provide grab rails.

“They [the staff] can’t be with me at all times,” said Garson. “That is why other corporations provide housing aid, so that I may do as I please.”

“Essentially, I don’t think installing new equipment in our rooms are mandatory,” said Vickson. “I believe many of our residents’ families understand and appreciate why we prefer to be more hands-on and helpful.”

Northwood caters to approximately 1,800 tenants, with staff members assigned to provide care to an average of six tenants each.

Garson said that the workers are wonderful and are willing to assist guests in their daily morning routines, but she said that residents do not always want help doing simple tasks.

Vickson said that being with each person individually several times a day makes guests feel more at home and cared for.

“It allows our staff to know our guests and their needs,” said Vickson. “We’d like to ensure our residents feel comfortable in their new homes and to provide them with the assistance and medical attention needed.”

Help from staff

Laura Heart has lived at Northwood for four years.  She said she has not had an issue when receiving personal help.

“People are always here, even when I’m not,” said Heart. “I personally don’t get a ton of visitors, so I enjoy [the staff’s] help and company.”

Garson said that a simple handrail would be as much assistance as she needs.

“For some, it can feel like an institution, because you’re never really left alone for long,” said Heart. “I think that’s why people begin turning down help and attempting to do things by themselves.”