Friday, March 9, 2012

Goodlife Fitness - Jump! Child Care Review

This is something I don't do very often - write a negative review. I had a really disturbing experience lately, though, and did provide the company ample opportunity to respond, which they did not. So I'd like to share here what happened in the spirit of a reminder to be alert and be thorough when you are choosing child care providers.

On February 27th, my friend and I visited the Canyon Meadows Goodlife Fitness Club (on Macleod Trail) in Calgary. She has two young daughters, a three year old (G.) and a one year old (H.), and I, of course, have a one year old daughter (Mia). She has taken G. to the Jump! center before and everything has been fine before, so we thought we'd try taking the babies for a half-hour test run. I'd never left Mia with a care facility before, so it was a little high-anxiety to begin with for me.

We arrived at the club at around 9:40 am. We checked in, settled the girls. G. went off to play, and H. was playing as well. I sat Mia in front of the bookshelf and she set to playing with the books. I said on my way out that Mia is "used to constant supervision" (my words exactly) - perhaps I was not clear enough and should have said that at her age, she NEEDS constant and attentive supervision as she has an avid curiosity about the world and no sense of danger. I guess I expected that child care providers would know that about one year olds. Mistake.

The child care center at the time of my check in had 9 children (the girl on the desk mentioned this as she had just done a count); at least one of these was an infant in a car seat, I would guess 5 children under 18 months and around 3 children under 6. There was one Goodlife staff member at the desk (in a Goodlife staff shirt), who remained at the desk for all the times I looked in with the exception I will mention later. There were two other adults that I saw in the Jump! center and on speaking with one of them she said she was the mother of one of the children and was "volunteering" (her word) there. Neither of these women were wearing Goodlife staff shirts so I believe they were not staff members per se.

My friend and I went to the change room for a couple minutes to stow our stuff in lockers, and then went to check through the window of the child care center. G. was playing happily, H. was playing at a child set of table and chairs, Mia was still looking at books.

My friend and I went to the elliptical trainers to warm up. The plan was 10 minutes of warm-up, check on the girls again, followed by the circuit and then to pick up the girls. We managed to get 9 minutes in on the elliptical trainers before the girl in the Goodlife shirt from the Jump! desk came out to us. She asked, "Are you H's mum?" to my friend, "She's had a boo-boo".

My friend and I rushed to follow her to the Jump center. H. was in one of the women's arms, screaming, with blood on her face. There were bloody baby wipes and tissues on the floor. On a closer look, H. had a gash in her forehead that was about 3/4" long and gaping open right down to the bone. They said H. had fallen against a wooden fence installed around the child play area. All three of the adults were gathered around her.

My friend took H., one of the volunteers (I will call her that, I am not certain of her status) told her to apply pressure and that they'd already tried an ice pack. The volunteer then applied two bandaids to H's forehead - catching her hair and her eyebrow in the adhesive (which later proved even more painful when they were removed to treat the wound). The volunteer told my friend to take her to the urgent care clinic and asked if she knew where it was. Another parent luckily was able to give her directions. I ran to get my friend's coat from her locker and she rushed off with H., leaving G. with me.

I remained in the Jump! center for the next hour or so while I waited for G.'s dad to come pick her up. I absolutely did not feel comfortable leaving the children in the care of the staff after what had happened and on seeing that my daughter was playing with inappropriate toys at that time (more on that later).

As a result of this injury, H. will have a permanent scar on her forehead. The wound was open long enough that it could not be stitched and had to be glued. Any mother knows that accidents happen, and you can't prevent every fall. However, I don't believe this situation was unavoidable.

Here are my concerns about this situation and what I saw afterwards:
  • If there is a procedure in place for injuries, it was clearly not followed. Here is why I say this:
  • using baby wipes on a would cannot possibly be standard procedure. They contain chemicals, alcohol and fragrances and are not designed for wound care. Completely inappropriate.
  • The staff applied an ice pack *before* contacting the mother of this child, as there was no ice pack in sight when we got into the center yet they mentioned it had been used. How long after H. arrived at the center did the injury happen, and how long before they went to get her mother? 
  • on that note, there were no first aid supplies visible either in the immediate situation or even in a first aid kit on a wall that I saw.
  • One of the supervisors should have been dealing with the injured child, and the remaining adults should have continued to supervise the other children (!).
  • The most basic first aid training for cuts indicates Rest, Elevation, Direct Pressure (RED). H.'s head was elevated, and they were attempting to apply direct pressure to stop the bleeding. This much was done. First aid training beyond the most basic would indicate checking responses and eyes for signs of concussion with a head wound. I did not witness anyone doing this nor did anyone mention it. I'm not sure how much beyond the basic first aid training is required for child care but a blow to the head hard enough to cut to the bone does raise concerns of concussion.
  • The gash on H.'s forehead was such that it would have taken quite a blow against a sharp edge to create. My friend suspects that H. (a curious and active 13 month old) may have been standing on a chair to fall that hard against the rail.
  • While the three adult supervisors were all gathered around H., nobody was supervising the other children at all. Additional children had arrived and I would guess there were 12-15 children there, all under 5.
  • All the adults in the Jump! center made every effort to downplay the injury. Calling it a "boo-boo" was only the beginning. Even after my friend left with H., the women were telling me, "Oh, it didn't bleed that much", "Kids heal fast", and "It will probably only need one stitch" (as though a baby needing even "only" one stitch was okay!!)
Besides the horrifying injury to H., -
  • My daughter Mia (just 12 months) was playing unsupervised with crayons and pencil crayons when I came into the room. At her age, crayons are a choking hazard. Children this age put everything in their mouths, and have teeth to bite off chunks of crayon. Another little boy about the same age was playing with crayons as well. Pencil crayons are equally inappropriate for unsupervised play: sharp, pointy sticks, easy to fall on for wobbly early walkers who like to stumble around gripping things and/or chewing on things.
  • The older children were not separated at all from the younger children (infants were in car seats or in exersaucers in the front area, but any child who was walking was in the larger play area). The older children were playing roughly and running around the unsteady toddlers. The volunteers were reprimanding them but it was largely ineffective.
  • The older children were also giving the younger ones age-inappropriate toys (again a lack of supervision). One of the children (about 4) gave my daughter a piece of construction paper while I was there with her, watching over her and the little boy playing with the crayons. After about 10 minutes of the two of them playing with the paper and beginning to rip it to pieces, one of the volunteers came over and said, "Oh, she has paper! Are you okay with that?". I had been sitting right there and watching the two children so they would not eat the paper, and I recognize that my presence probably made the supervisors less diligent, but all the same it took her that long to notice that these young children had something they shouldn't. This is another indication to me that there were simply not enough adults present.
My recommendations for this club are as follows (and I can't believe these things are not in place already):
  • a maximum ratio of children to adults. There were only two floating "volunteers" and one girl sitting at a desk for 12-15 children under 5. To me this is not nearly enough adults to manage that many young children. 
  • soft flooring (they had several of the workout mats laid out over linoleum, which covered maybe 30% of the flooring). Put in carpet, or if that's too hard to keep clean, put in those foam interlocking mats or another type of soft floor covering. 
  • sharp corners should be cushioned if not removed. Crib bumpers or low mats could be put against the lower half of the rails where children might hurt themselves.
  • maps to the nearest emergency rooms/urgent care clinics should be available in case of emergency to provide to parents.
  • First aid supplies should be readily accessible and available in the Jump! center
  • Older children should be separated from younger ones (eg 3-5 in one area, 1 & 2 in another, infants in another) and each should have independent and adequate supervision.
  • The staff on duty at the Jump! center at the time we were there (Monday, February 26th between approximately 9:40 - 11:20) need further training in first aid and on procedure.
I had been anticipating a morning that would be stressful for me in leaving my daughter with strangers for the first time, but hoped and believed it would all work out fine and I would be able to use the Jump! child care for daytime workouts, which would be extremely convenient. I am disappointed and frankly distressed by our experience there yesterday.

I can say with certainty that after what I saw there that day neither I nor my friend will be leaving our children at the Jump! center and certainly will be telling our friends about our experience. This was extremely stressful and scary. A child care center must maintain consistent, diligent supervision and provide a safe environment for children and I feel that neither of these conditions were met on this occasion.

I sent the above information in its entirety to Goodlife, both to that specific club and to their social media contact. (I'd tweeted about our horrible experience and received a quick tweet back to email them about what happened.) I have had no response - not even to indicate receipt of my email.

I just want to be clear, I don't want anything from them personally. I'm not looking for some kind of kickback. What I would like to see is an admission that there are evidently problems with their child care - and some immediate measures to prevent future injuries (or worse).

My friend also spoke with the manager at that club on the phone and via email. (They didn't call her to follow up and make sure H. was okay - she called them.) The response she got was that they "take it seriously" and that they were allowing her to get out of her membership contract without paying buyout fees (she was so upset by the whole thing that she cancelled her membership at the club). Again no apology, no admission that there were any problems and nothing about what they were going to do to make sure that more diligent care was taken with both environment and staff.


I make no claims about any other Goodlife location's child care, and can only say that from my experience at this one, I will NEVER be leaving my daughter with them again.

15 comments:

  1. Wow, how distressing. I worked in the drop off care of a gym in MN, and I had CPR and First Aid training, and had at least 2-4 other employees working with me. I'm so sad that they did such a horrid job. I always wanted to strive to make sure the kids were safe, and the parents comfortable.

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  2. Oh man, I am not a sue-happy person by any means but I might start a claim in this situation, if only to ensure that the same thing doesn't happen to other kids. (Perhaps you should go back to the location and snap some photos of the unsafe conditions including the crayons, whether you form a lawsuit or just send them to management.) I hope that you are all over Yelp, etc with the story as well. That is terrifying. My child is a major climber and he's QUICK, but it isn't as though kids just climb shit and dive into fences. If she was on a chair, she probably teetered for awhile, not to mention how long it took her to get up there in the first place. Ridiculous. And downplaying the injury is incredibly unprofessional. I just don't get how any caregiver could take their eyes off of a baby for that long.

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  3. Wow, I am sorry to hear that. I have heard some negative things about the childcare before. I've only used it a few times, years ago, and it was never particularly busy. Did you contact Head Office?

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  4. My son got a gash in his forehead that required stitches; he got the gash from knocking his head against a round bar... how? I have no clue but he did

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  5. I am H's Mum and I have never been so disturbed in my life with the whole situation. Very upsetting and for a while I blamed myself. Harlow will probably have a scar, that makes me sad. Just be aware of any childcare facility, check it out and ask lots of questions before you decide to use it. I have learnt my lesson....the hard way!

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  6. Hi there,
    I am actually a new employee at Goodlife Fitness, working in JUMP childminding. I would like to mention that I am NOT speaking for Goodlife, only for my personal experience as a care provider.

    I have only been working for one month and have witnessed several times the situations you've mentioned in your review. Today was a PA day in Ontario (a day off for school children, don't know if you have those where you are) and one volunteer and I cared for 17 children on our own. There is very little management and as I am a new employee I have often been uncertain of what types of executive decisions I am able to make for the JUMP program. Since reading your post however, my mind has been changed. I will be doing what I can to change the system keeping your recommendations in mind.

    Today we were left with an 8 year old special needs boy who we were not told had special needs. We also had several children over the age of 10, as well as a couple of babies under 2. The rest of the children were between the ages of 3 and 7. The 8 year old who we were later informed of having ADHD (though I suspect there were other problems as well) was incredibly violent, not only with us but with the other children. He threw hot wheels cars at our heads and when we told him to stop he refused. He also completely broke a large office chair, because we allowed him to rock in it since it was the only time he would stop being violent with the other children. He was a large 8 year old, approximately 5 ft and 100 lbs, much too large for us to pick up and put in a corner. He also repeatedly opened the child-locked door, endangering the other children by trying to let them out.

    All children were picked up after about 2 and a half hours, the 8 year old and his two brothers being the last to be picked up, well after the 2 hour limit. After telling his mother about his violence, she told me he had said to her that my volunteer scratched him with her fingernails, this being completely unfounded and untrue.

    Your suggestions of separating the older and younger children are my top priority, as well as providing a safer area for the children to play in. 17 children to two adults was completely unacceptable today, though I was never told I had the option to refuse children. Regardless of company policy, if I feel there are too many children for me and any volunteers I may have to refuse the latecomers.

    Thank you for sharing your experience, though I must implore you to blame the company and not hold it against the individual workers. Most of us are incredibly overworked and paid minimum wage. Until today I'd honestly been doing the job as a temporary thing and hadn't put my heart into it. Now that I have grown closer to several of the sweet, lovely children that come in, I realize their safety is my number one priority, NOT MY JOB!

    Once again, thank you for sharing this, I could't agree more and I believe daycare centers everywhere, not to mention Goodlife's JUMP program, really need to make children's safety the priority, not getting away with having as few employees to pay as possible.

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  7. GoodLife Fitness is not exactly a place where I would leave my children.

    -According to this document (http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2008/2008canlii19498/2008canlii19498.html), a convicted sexual offender with a prior criminal record was able to secure an employment contract with GoodLife Fitness. It's unclear if he did work there though or if he went to jail instead.

    -One trainer was charged with assault of two escorts and impersonating an officer
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2010/04/19/ottawa-assault.html. The charges were stayed because the victim refused to testify.

    -One employee of GoodLIfe fitness was caught selling cocaine
    http://www.thewhig.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3274077

    This is not a place I would entrust with my children

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  8. WOW, thank-you for bringing these concerns to my attention. I was going to get a Goodlife membership but knew that I would rely on the childcare services in order to be able to workout. I was doing some research into their childcare program when your blog came up. I was nervous to leave my daugther before but am now certainly uncomfortable using this service. I appreciate you sharing your experience so that other mothers like myself are aware!!!!

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  9. While I have never had an issue as bad as yours I completely agree that Goodlife has terrible childcare. After having my second son I took my boys there to try it out and there was one lady taking care of 11 children ranging from 6 months to 7 years. Kids were eating off the floor, screaming, soiled diapers. I immediately left, never to return to another goodlife. Happy to find Extreme fitness in Toronto at Dunfield with caring staff, it is more expensive but the childcare is supreme. Now that Goodlife bought them out I'm afraid I may have to cancel if the childcare returns back to traditional Goodlife ways.

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  10. Thank you for posting this. I have 2 daughters. One is 4 and my youngest is 6 months. I have been debating whether I should go to the gym during the day and have the facility watch them. But I am very concerned about having them watch my 6 month old. This post just scares me.

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  11. Thank you for posting your experience that you had at the Jump Program at Good Life Fitness. I too have had a bad experience with them. I brought my three month old to the day care at Good Life fitness on Tuesday. My child just got over having cradle cap and baby acme and has alittle baby eczema on his cheeks. The staff member at the day care ased me if this was contagious. i said no its not contagious. its baby acme and baby eczema. its perfectly normal for babies to have that because their skin is very sensitive outside of the mothers womb. I thought that was the end of that conversation. i brought in my baby again on Thursday and the supervisor asked again if it was contagious. i said no. I told her to go on google and google baby acme and baby eczema. She said she is just concerned because she is pregnant. I said I will bring in a doctors note if you are so scared to touch my baby. I went to the doctors on Friday. Got a doctors note signed by the doctor that read baby A has baby eczema and baby acme. Non contagious. Gave the doctors note to Good Life Fitness to show them them that they are absolutely Stupid. I got a call from their head office. Apology is not accepted. I do not tolerate ignorance.

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  12. After reading your review I will not be using GoodLife. I was hoping to start exercising and leave my 6 month old at JUMP. Isn't it against the law to leave children supervised with less then a required minimum? I guess they aren't a daycare but they do act like one...even for two hours when you leave them there.

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    1. Hi! In Alberta, at least, there is no required adult to child ratio *when the parent remains on site*. So there can be loads of kids with inadequate supervision, perfectly legal.

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    2. Hi! In Alberta, at least, there is no required adult to child ratio *when the parent remains on site*. So there can be loads of kids with inadequate supervision, perfectly legal.

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  13. My son and daughter go to a jump program in Windsor Ontario, as well as my cousins 2 kids. On arriving there there was only 1 lady in the jump area to control possibly 9 or more kids. We put the kids in the play area and as we were about to leave she told us that "she wouldn't be changing any diapers because she was the only one in there that evening and she could possibly change diapers with the other kids in the enclosed area. Upon arriving home my daughter had poop caked on her but as well as an overly soggy diaper. And our 2 oldest 2 & 4 were saying that she was really mean to them and that she was rude and would put them in "time outs". I refuse to take my kids there when she is there because she is just rude. I definitely think that they need training. I don't think they have proper skills to look after kids.

    I'm sorry this happened to you!

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