Zach Plett with his (from left) older sister Callie, mom Maggie and younger sister Cassie, taken at his grandfather’s 95th birthday party, just over a year before Zach died. (Contributed photo).

B.C.’s health, addictions ministers to announce changes to recovery-house rules

Safety, quality of care targeted; South Surrey parent whose son overdosed ‘curious’ about amendments

Changes aimed at improving conditions for people who rely on assisted living – including recovery homes – are imminent, provincial officials have pledged.

In a media event set for 10 a.m. today (Wednesday) at the Last Door Recovery Society in New Westminster, Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, are to announce “community care and assisted living changes that will increase the safety and quality of care for people in assisted living – including recovery homes – throughout B.C.”

South Surrey parent Maggie Plett – whose son, Zach, died of a fentanyl overdose last December in a recovery home she described as having “brutal” conditions – said early Wednesday she is “curious to hear what they have to say.”

Plett met with Darcy last month regarding her concerns with the Step by Step recovery home where 21-year-old Zach died, and told Peace Arch News after that meeting that she left feeling somewhat optimistic.

READ MORE: South Surrey mom optimistic changes ahead for recovery homes

While she wasn’t given specifics at the time – beyond that a list of 25 incidents that require immediate reporting by recovery-house operators was to be among the “more strict and regulated” rules announced – Plett said she felt the minister was “trying.”

“She genuinely cared and definitely was very receptive to everything I was saying,” Plett told PAN shortly after the meeting.

Zach was found face-down in a bed – which his mom saw later the same day was fitted with mouldy sheets – at the 9310 132 St. Step by Step location at around 4 p.m. on Dec. 15. His actual time of death was later pinpointed by the coroner at between 9 a.m. and noon.

The site was one of five in the city operating under the same name at that time, both licensed by the municipality and registered with the province’s Assisted Living Registry.

However, City of Surrey bylaw services manager Kim Marosevich confirmed last week that two of those five facilities, including the one where Zach died, were voluntarily closed by the operator – the first on July 19, and the second (at 13210 89 Ave.) on July 31. Their respective business licences were cancelled on the same days, Marosevich told PAN.

As of 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, all five sites were still listed on the ALR.

Plett said Wednesday that “no one, from anywhere” contacted her about the closure of the Step by Step sites.

Told by Darcy in July that the ministry was aware of facilities that weren’t following existing rules, Plett said the province’s failure to pursue such complaints is “the reason why my son’s dead.”

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