FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 2015
Vast majority would spurn nursing homes without sprinklers, urgent action needed
Toronto, ON: As the one year anniversary of the L’Isle Verte fire tragedy approaches, CARP members are calling for immediate action to make nursing homes fire safe. They see no reason to delay retrofitting and would avoid nursing homes that did not have sprinklers if they could. [Poll results attached below]
On January 23, 2014 the fire at Résidence du Havre nursing home in L’Isle-Verte, Quebec, killed 32 people and left 15 others injured. One year later, despite saturation in media coverage and expressions of regret from politicians at the time, there has been no assurance that all such nursing homes in Canada have been retrofitted to ensure that residents are safe in the event of a fire. Since 1969, 140 Canadians have died in nursing home fires, including the fatalities at L’Isle Verte.
CARP members are impatient and want immediate action, according the CARP Poll™ results:
- Nearly half [46%] think nursing homes are no safer than a year ago, and [38%] don’t know
- More than half [53%] didn’t even know that sprinklers were not required for pre-1997 homes
- 88% would avoid a nursing home with no sprinklers
- 76% say that sprinklers are the single most important measure to prevent death from nursing home fires
- Accepting that it’s costly, 74% want immediate retrofit [11%] or within 2 years [63%]
- To spur action, CARP members say homes that can’t afford to retrofit sprinklers should close (24%) or that the government should bear the costs of retrofitting (27%). A further one quarter think homes (16%) or the government (9%) should be monetarily liable in the event of deaths caused by lack of retrofits. Just 4% think homes should be excused from retrofitting if they can’t afford it.
- As for the cause of inaction:
o 62% think it’s ageism
o 86% think it’s the high cost
- There is virtually unanimous agreement [99%] that nursing homes should be legally liable for the health and safety of their residents and [99%] that residents have the right to be safe
“Canadians should be as outraged as CARP members that steps have not been taken to ensure that all nursing homes are fire safe. Our members don’t buy the excuse that it’s too costly to retrofit and they’re not prepared to wait more than two years for every home to be brought up to today’s standards. They see this as a right to be safe in a nursing home and would impose a legal liability on government and the home operators for failing to take known measures to prevent such tragic deaths”, said Susan Eng, VP, Advocacy for CARP.
The L’Isle Verte fire revealed not only that elderly residents of care homes are at risk of death or serious injury in the case of fire but also that such tragedies are preventable. New homes now must have sprinklers, fire-safe doors and walls and comprehensive fire safety plans. Home built before 1997 [generally] do not.
Last week, CARP issued an open letter to all provincial, territorial and federal governments to take immediate steps to prevent future fire tragedies by legislating retrofitting of fire sprinklers in all care homes built before 1997, which are not currently covered by national building code requirements and to enforce compliance with the national building code. No reply has been received nor have we seen any media reporting their response to this tragedy.
The tragedy at L’Isle Verte, and the deaths and injuries it caused, was largely preventable – as attested to by witness after witness at the Coroner’s inquiry and coroner’s inquests in too many other nursing home fires. The testimony at the L’Isle Verte Inquest detailed the lack of all the essential fire prevention measures now required of newer facilities – which may have prevented those 32 deaths.
It is highly likely that the report of the Coroner’s Inquest will once again call for mandatory retrofitting of all nursing homes with sprinklers and other fire safety measures.
Click here to read CARP’s Open Letter to Ministers Responsible for safety
Click here to view CARP’s News Releases
Click here to read Stop the nonsense. Require sprinklers in all nursing homes
Click here to read Fire and Ice, a year after a nursing home fire devastated a small Quebec town.
Click here to read Ineptitude killed 32 seniors. Only orgy of inaction has followed.
Click here to read Quebec town marks first anniversary of fire at seniors’ home
CARP is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to advocating for a New Vision of Aging for Canada, social change that will bring financial security, equitable access to health care and freedom from discrimination. CARP seeks to ensure that the marketplace serves the needs and expectations of our generation and provides value-added benefits, products and services to our members. Through our network of chapters across Canada, CARP is dedicated to building a sense of community and shared values among our members in support of CARP’s mission.
For further information, please contact:
Sarah Park 416.607.2471
Michael Nicin 416.607.2479
Director of Policy
Anna Sotnykova 416.607.2475
Media & Communications Coordinator
CARP Nursing Home Safety Poll Report
January 15, 2015
Close to one half of members think nursing homes in Canada are no safer now than they were before the L’Isle Verte fire last year, one quarter know someone in care in a nursing home and one third do not think they would be safe in the event of a fire.
Members consider fire along with infectious diseases and staff neglect to be the most dangerous threats to health and safety in nursing homes. There is virtual unanimous agreement that the most important step to take in preventing nursing home fires is retrofitting sprinklers in all homes.
There is virtual unanimous agreement that members would avoid a nursing home which did not have sprinklers retrofitted, and they see the lack of provincial legislation mandating this as being due to the high costs and the fact it is not a government priority.
The vast majority want retrofitting mandated to make all nursing homes safe. They think governments should either pay the cost of retrofitting homes that can’t afford it or close them down. Few think that homes which can’t afford the retrofitting costs should be excused from doing so. And it should be done either immediately or within no more than two years.
Close to half do not think that most nursing home operators and staff are well-trained to protect residents in case of fire. While two thirds think ageism is at work in government foot dragging on mandating retrofitted sprinklers, they are more likely to blame the high cost.
There is virtually unanimous agreement nursing homes should be liable for the health and safety of their residents and that residents have the right to be safe. Most members have the perception the current government places the interests of nursing home operators above those of nursing home residents.
Close to one half of members do not think that nursing homes in Canada are any safer now than they were a year ago, before the L’Isle Verte fire (46%).
It is now a year since the tragic fire at the L’Isle Verte nursing home in Quebec in which 32 residents died in the part of the home that did not have sprinklers. The residents in the new, sprinklered section survived. Do you agree or disagree nursing homes are any safer in the event of a fire in Canada now than they were last year?
One quarter of members know someone in a nursing home (25%), and very few members themselves are residents (1%).
Are you currently in a nursing home, or is someone close to you in a nursing home?
|Someone I know||25%|
The plurality of members who know someone in a home think that they would be safe in a fire (42%) in that home, compared to a third who do not agree (34%). Fully one quarter don’t know (24%)
Do you agree or disagree the residents in this nursing home would be safe in the event of a fire?
Infectious diseases like the flu are seen to be the biggest danger in nursing homes (36%) followed by staff neglect (20%). Over one tenth see fire as the greatest danger (13%). Almost no one sees food borne illnesses as a serious danger (less than 0.5%).
As far as you know, what is the greatest single danger to resident safety in nursing homes?
|Neglect by staff||20%|
|Abuse by other residents||8%|
|Abuse by staff||6%|
|Food borne illnesses||*|
The vast majority, three quarters, agree retrofitting all nursing homes with sprinklers is the best solution to preventing fatalities in nursing home fires (76%). One tenth mention better staff training (10%).
What is the single most important step that could be taken to prevent fatalities in nursing home fires?
|Retrofitting all nursing homes with sprinklers||76%|
|Better staff training||10%|
|Regular fire drills||4%|
|Prominently displayed escape routes||1%|
|MEASURES NOT NEEDED||1%|
One half of members are not aware that most provinces do not mandate retrofitting sprinklers (53%).
Since 1997, national building codes have required sprinklers in all newly built care homes, but not in pre-existing homes. Most provinces have not taken action to mandate sprinklers for homes built before 1997, with the exceptions of Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador but with 5 – 10 year delays. Were you aware that in Canada most nursing homes built before 1997 still are not legally required to have fire sprinklers?
|No, not aware||53%|
The vast majority agree a lack of sprinklers would cause them to avoid a nursing home without them (88%).
Would a lack of fire sprinklers in a nursing home affect your decision to live in a nursing home or to choose a home for a family member?
|Yes, would avoid home with no sprinklers||88%|
|No, not concerned about sprinklers||4%|
Members are equally likely to think the reason provinces don’t mandate retrofitting sprinklers is the high cost (39%) or the fact this isn’t a government priority (34%). One fifth say voters need to exert more pressure (17%), either all voters (12%) or just seniors (5%).
Sprinkler systems reduce fire-related injuries and deaths by 80%, compared to non-sprinkler care homes. They reduce property damage by 68%. It costs much more to retrofit a care home with sprinklers than to install them during construction. Why do you think most provincial governments have not legislated retrofitting care homes with sprinklers?
|Cost too great to retrofit||39%|
|Nursing home safety not government priority||34%|
|All voters need to exert more pressure||12%|
|Seniors need to exert more pressure||5%|
Members are equally likely to say homes that can’t afford to retrofit sprinklers should close (24%) or that the government should bear the costs of retrofitting (27%). A further one quarter think homes (17%) or the government (10%) should be liable in the event of deaths caused by lack of retrofits. Just 4% think homes should be excused from retrofitting if too costly.
The costs of fire safety retrofitting include expanding water mains and ensuring sufficient water pressure as well as installing the sprinklers and fire walls and doors throughout the home and can therefore be costly. What is the best solution to this issue?
|Government to fund retrofits||27%|
|Close homes if not retrofitted||24%|
|Homes to be liable in event of death if no retrofit||17%|
|Government to be liable in event of death if no retrofit||10%|
|Community to fundraise for retrofit||4%|
|Facilities should not be required to retrofit if too costly||4%|
As many as two thirds of members think nursing homes should have at most two years to retrofit sprinklers, rather than the suggested period of five years or more. On average, those who think homes should have a grace period to retrofit think it should be about 2 years. A further one-tenth think retrofits should be done immediately, if mandated.
If fire safety retrofit is required by law, how long should care homes have to fully comply?
|Two years or less||63%|
|AVG # OF YEARS||2.1 Years|
|As long as they need to take||2%|
The plurality of members, about half, do not htink nursing home operators and staff are generally well trained to protect residents in a fire (46%).
Do you agree or disagree most care homes staff and operators are well-trained and prepared to protect residents in fires and other emergency situations?
Two thirds think government foot-dragging on mandating sprinkler retrofits is due to ageism.
Including the fire at L’Isle Verte, there have been 140 deaths due to fire in ten separate nursing homes in Canada. Do you agree or disagree that government foot-dragging on making sprinklers required for ALL nursing homes is due to ageism?
Members are even more likely to agree that this foot dragging is due to the high cost of retrofitting (86%), and very few disagree (6%).
Do you agree or disagree that government foot-dragging on making sprinklers required for ALL nursing homes is due to the high costs required for pre-existing private and public care homes to retrofit?
Virtually all members agree nursing homes should be legally liable for the health and safety of their residents at all times (92%).
Do you agree or disagree that all nursing homes should be legally liable for the health and safety of their residents at all times?
Every member agrees nursing home residents are owed the right to be safe (99%).
Do you agree or disagree that every resident of a nursing home in Canada has the right to be safe and protected from preventable harm, abuse or neglect?
Two thirds of members agree the current government places the interests of nursing home operators above those of residents (64%), but one fifth do not know (20%).
Do you agree or disagree the current government places the interests of nursing home operators above those of nursing home residents?
More than 1100 CARP Poll™ online panel members responded to this poll between January 13 and 15, 2015. The margin of error for a probability sample this size is about plus or minus 3%, 19 times out of 20