By: Christina Stevens, Global News
Mairead Cavanagh is the mother of a seven-year-old boy who requires 24-hour care.
A tracheostomy tube, a PICC line, a feeding tube — those are just of few of the things a nurse who works with Cavanagh’s son Maleek should be familiar with but she said the home nursing care system is failing them.
Cavanagh is just one of dozens of families who have come forward in response to recent stories from Global News on home nursing care.
They say they have trouble getting nurses to fill the shifts, and the nurses who do show up frequently seem to lack appropriate training.
Nearly four dozen families have come forward in response to recent stories.
Cavanagh says it is a rare week when all of Maleek’s home nursing shifts are filled and when there is a nurse, it’s not much better.
Recently she woke up to find out that the nurse on duty was unable to re-insert Maleek’s trach tube, Cavanagh says.
“I had to get up and immediately perform emergency care.”
Cavanagh claims the nurse made a litany of mistakes that night, and hadn’t checked Maleek’s vital signs in hours.
She says there have been a number of problems, including one nurse walked out while Maleek was in respiratory distress because their shift was over.
Cavanagh said she sometimes finds it hard to believe all the problems there have been with home nurses.
Yet parent after parent has shared similar stories with Global News.
In contrast, the provincial government reports stellar numbers.
According to the Ontario Association of Community Care Access Centres, in the last fiscal year there were just 998 complaints out of 6.6 million home nursing visits.
Cavanagh doesn’t know how many complaints she alone has lodged.
“Oh my goodness, I would have lost track,” she said.
The CCAC also claim to fill 99.975 per cent of home nursing shifts.
Minister of Health Eric Hoskins was unavailable for a follow-up interview, but when Global News spoke to him last week, he would not acknowledge there is a systemic problem.
“I don’t think speaking with several individuals, about cases that I am not familiar with, is necessarily a pattern,” Hoskins said. “But I would encourage you, and it would require obviously the permission of the families that are concerned, I would encourage you to talk about the specific incidences.”
He said he`d only look into concerns with home nursing once the families consent for their information to be shared.
Some families have said they want to remain anonymous due to a fear of a backlash, and further difficulties getting nursing care.
However, nine families have agreed to let their local CCAC share their information with the minister’s office to facilitate an investigation.
“I can’t really understand how this isn’t an urgent policy matter for the Ontario Government,” Cavanagh said. “I need to really think for myself is it safe to continue?”
She says she’s at the breaking point, with home nursing. But when asked what her options are, the answer was one word.