Cornwall Ontario – There are many definitions of Elder Abuse and Neglect. Although most are similar, the Yukon has one of the most comprehensive definition: the deliberate mistreatment of an adult that (a) causes the adult physical, mental or emotional harm, or (b) causes financial damage or loss to the adult, and includes intimidation, humiliation, physical assault, sexual assault, over medicated, withholding needed medication, censoring mail, invasion or denial of privacy, denial of access to visitors, or denial of use or possession of personal property.
In my case the resident was tied to a chair, forced fed and manhandled in front of multiple witnesses including the nurse who documented the event. It is interesting and disturbing to note that the abusive employee has been promoted since this incident.
The second International Conference for Geriatrics and Gerontology was held in Toronto in 2015 with some of their finding as following:
“The numbers of elderly in nursing homes and residential care facilities is a growing issue facing tens of thousands of senior citizens every year. As the population of older Americans grows, so does the hidden problem of elder abuse, exploitation and neglect.
Abuses violations are among the most serious violations that can occur in nursing homes. The elderly and disabled residents living in nursing homes cannot protect themselves from physical attack or sexual assault.
All too often, the elderly and disabled cannot even communicate to family members when they have suffered abuse”.
The World Health Organization states: “Elder abuse occurs in nursing homes across the the world and effects individuals in every social, economic, cultural or religious background. Abuse against the elderly is no respecter of persons, it can happen to anyone. Seniors are victims of negligent nursing homes and staff members. Nursing home abuse against the elderly often goes undetected, unreported and unaddressed because of inadequate internal systems to detect abuse”.
Recent changes to the law that governs long term care homes in Ontario have strengthened measures designed to prevent the abuse and neglect of long-term care residents, and have expanded the mandatory reporting of abuse in long-term care homes in a way that now
includes mandatory police reports.
Elder abuse and neglect can be very difficult to detect. The following signs and symptoms may indicate that an older adult is being victimized or neglected:
fear, anxiety, depression or passiveness in relation to a family member, friend or care provider;
unexplained physical injuries;
dehydration, poor nutrition or poor hygiene;
improper use of medication;
confusion about new legal documents, such as a new will or a new mortgage;
sudden drop in cash flow or financial holdings; and
reluctance to speak about the situation
The Long Term Care Act : Residents Rights
Dignity and Respect : Every resident has the right to be treated with courtesy and respect and in a way that fully recognizes the resident’s individuality and respects his or her dignity. Every resident has the right to exercise the rights of a citizen. Every resident has the right to be told who is responsible for and who is providing his or her direct care. Every resident has the right to be afforded privacy in treatment and in caring for his or her personal needs. Every resident has the right to keep and display personal possessions, pictures and furnishings in his or her room, subject to safety requirements and the rights of other residents. Every resident has the right to pursue social, cultural, religious, spiritual and other interests, to develop his or her potential and to be given reasonable assistance by the Home to pursue these interests and develop his or her potential.
Section 20 – Policy to Promote Zero Tolerance
There must be a written policy to promote zero tolerance of abuse and neglect of residents. This policy must be communicated to all staff, residents and substitute decision-makers. This policy must comply with the Regulation and the Home must ensure compliance with the policy. At a minimum, the policy must meet all of the following: State that abuse and neglect are not to be tolerated; Clearly set out what constitutes abuse and neglect; Provide for a program for preventing abuse and neglect that complies with the Regulation; Contain an explanation of the duty under section 24 of the LTCHA to make mandatory reports; Set out procedures for investigating and responding to alleged, suspected or witnessed abuse and neglect of residents; and Set out the consequences for those who abuse or neglect residents. Glen Stor Dun Lodge had such a policy which was simply not enforced.
Section 23 of the LTCHA requires the Home to immediately investigate and take appropriate action relating to every alleged, suspected or witnessed incident of abuse of a resident by anyone and incident of neglect of a resident by the Home or its staff that is known by or reported to the Home. The results of the investigation and the action taken must be reported to the Director. Unfortunately the City of Cornwall in their decision not to report the abuse immediately and wait until through my efforts they reported three weeks late and only after I informed them that if they did not report it, I would. Ministry inspectors investigated and abuse was identified.
Section 98 – Police Notification The appropriate police force must be notified immediately of any alleged, suspected or witnessed incidence of abuse or neglect of a resident that the Home suspects may constitute a criminal offence. In my case during the Ministry investigation into retaliation against me I was shown the report the Glen Stor Dun Lodge submitted and the area for notification of police and family was not checked completed.
Section 26 (1))No person shall retaliate against another person, whether by action or omission, or threaten to do so because,
(a) anything has been disclosed to an inspector;
(b) anything has been disclosed to the Director including, without limiting the generality of the foregoing,
Without in any way restricting the meaning of the word “retaliate”, the following constitute retaliation for the purposes of subsection (26):
1. Dismissing a staff member.
2. Disciplining or suspending a staff member.
Imposing a penalty upon any person.
Intimidating, coercing or harassing any person.2007, c8, s,26.
Unfortunately I was given the full experience, both before and after my termination in 2009 I was intimidated, coerced and harassed almost daily. I also was given the one and only disciplinary letter I had ever received during my long career. That letter was removed as part of my first settlement.
It is an offence for any of the following persons to discourage a person from disclosing anything to the Director or an inspector or from providing evidence in a legal proceeding:
The licensee or person who manages the Home under a management contract.
An officer or director of the corporation, if the licensee or person who manages the Home is a corporation.
A member of the committee of management of a Home or board of management of a Home approved under Part VIII of the LTCHA.
At the time both Councillor Bernadette Clement and Councillor Elaine MacDonald sat on that committee and when questioned by the now Mayor O’Shaughnessy, after he and several other counsellors spoke to the Ministry (Carole Comeau) responded stated they were aware that abuse had taken place.
It is also an offence for any of the above persons to encourage a person to fail to disclose anything to the Director or an inspector or to fail to provide evidence in a legal proceeding.
No legal action or other proceeding can be commenced against any person for disclosing anything to the Director or an inspector or for providing evidence in a legal proceeding unless the person acted maliciously or in bad faith.
What are your thoughts?
Next time we will be discussing how to report suspected elder abuse.