Government releases investigation results on death of PDD client

January 31, 2012


The Alberta government is taking action to better protect individuals supported by the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program. The changes come following an investigation into the November 2011 death of a Calgary PDD client who sustained scalding injuries from bath water.

?This tragic incident should never have happened, and I don?t want it to happen again,? said George VanderBurg, Minister of Seniors. ?I?ve directed my Ministry to make specific changes to the PDD program to improve safeguards for the vulnerable Albertans this provincial program supports.?
The changes will include installing temperature regulators and improving bathing safety procedures in all homes where residents require bathing assistance. Alberta Seniors has also developed new safety standards and inspection processes specifically for group homes with two and three residents, as a way to improve safety of sites that don?t fall under the Supportive Living Accommodations Licensing Act (SLALA). Group homes with four or more residents are already licensed under this Act.

Over the next year, Alberta Seniors will offer education and support to PDD-funded service providers to help them understand and comply with the standards. Inspections of some group homes with three or fewer residents will begin in March 2012.

?Not only are we double-checking that we have safe procedures in place and that staff are properly trained, but now we?re going to inspect smaller group homes as is done with larger residences and facilities,? said VanderBurg. ?The mandate of the PDD program has always been to promote community inclusion and support individuals to live with independence and dignity, but fundamental to that is a safe environment.?

VanderBurg also released the full reports and Director?s Decisions from the Protection for Persons in Care investigation into the scalding incident. These reports are available on the Seniors website at

January 30, 2012
Actions to improve protection for PDD clients


New temperature control equipment and bathing protocols

On Dec. 6, letters went to service providers asking them to review bathing protocols with staff and install temperature regulators in residences where individuals need support to bathe.
PDD has been in contact with all 190 service providers and approximately 900 families who manage their own supports across the PDD program to ensure they are aware of this new directive
PDD funded agencies are in the process of installing temperature control hardware in approximately 1,000 residences at a total cost to the PDD program of approximately $1.5 million
New safety standards

Alberta Seniors is creating new safety standards that require group homes with two and three residents, or one resident if they have complex needs (e.g. concurrent developmental disabilities and behavioural or mental health issues) to be inspected using some of the criteria that apply to facilities that are licensed under the Supportive Living Accommodations Licensing Act (SLALA)
Inspections to begin in March 2012
Full compliance will be required by March 2013
PDD overview

The PDD program supports approximately 9,600 individuals with developmental disabilities
Budget of $608 million in 2011-12
Six Community Boards
Approximately 190 service provider agencies
Approximately 900 families who manage their own supports
Supportive Living Accommodations Licensing Act (SLALA)

Defines supportive living accommodation as a housing concept where the operator also provides or arranges for services to assist residents to live as independently as possible
Establishes a licensing regime for facilities with four or more residents to assure quality accommodation and services that enhance the safety and security of residents, whether or not the facility is funded by government
Establishes a mechanism for addressing complaints and concerns about accommodations and services with four or more residents
Where SLALA applies, PDD-funded residences of four or more individuals are already licensed
Standards for SLALA can be found online at:
Protection for Persons in Care (PPC) Reports

This incident was reported to PPC by three separate complainants. PPC carried out one investigation, but completed three separate investigation reports to address each report of abuse.
Directions include:
The installation of appropriate plumbing hardware in all group homes run by the agency involved
Changes to the agency’s bathing and emergency procedures
Additional staff training
Review of the agency’s staff turnover
A debriefing session for staff of the group home where the incident took place