By Laura Keil

Last week, a senior fell when a staircase collapsed at the Golden Years Lodge.

I believe this is an important story and I wanted to do it right. Even though it puts an uncomfortable spotlight on the volunteer board and paid staff of the Golden Years Lodge.

I know the people on the board and the staff are trying, but some very clear warning signs were missed and how things work at the lodge should be examined.

For instance, why was there no report to the manager or the board from the caretaker last year when another resident’s steps fell apart? Why weren’t all the steps examined then? Why did it take months for staff to take a look at the other woman’s steps this summer when the damage was so clearly visible? (Residents said this woman does not usually complain, and yet it felt like it had been “forever” since she first mentioned it until the time staff took action).

Mistakes can happen, and accidents do happen. But this was preventable. The lodge needs to set a higher standard.

The response from the administrator and the president of the board is that this was an unfortunate accident that nothing could have prevented and no changes are needed to the way they operate. I don’t accept that.

The seniors living in that building are at the mercy of the administration and the board. They have very little power or say about their living environment, other than verbal and written complaints, which in this case, were not enough to prevent disaster.

If the board and administration are not willing to re-examine their practices after a major incident like this, they should consider whether they are right for this job. The safety and comfort of seniors should be the highest priority. Not money. Not efficiency. Not making things easy for employees.

I don’t have all the answers as to what should change. The board and administration need to open up discussion and figure that out. I do know that the residents who live there should be part of that change. Residents’ opinions should be taken seriously when it comes to what standard is being set.

The Housing Society has money in the bank and opportunities for grants. Rather than continue with a poverty mentality where the standard is simply to keep things adequate, why not strive for excellence?

Our seniors deserve it.