Ontario must address violence in long-term care homes
TheStar.com – opinion/editorials – A Toronto nursing home where an 87-year-old man was beaten to death shows problems in Ontario’s long-term care homes aren’t getting better.
Nov 12 2013. Editorial
It’s not getting better. Despite years of promised improvements, Ontario’s long-term care system still can’t protect the elderly from violent residents.
The weekend beating death of 87-year-old Francesco DaSilva in Toronto’s Castleview-Wychwood Towers is a tragic reminder. The mental state of his 81-year-old roommate, now charged with second-degree murder, is part of the police investigation. Needless to say, the home has a history of bad care: from the rape of an elderly patient several years ago to allegations of cruelty by staff. Clearly, Ministry of Health inspectors must do better at protecting residents.
Unfortunately, the growing problem of violent elderly residents almost overshadows bad care. That’s unfortunate. But it’s a sign of the times. As the Star’s Theresa Boyle reports, an Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors study found aggression in 11 per cent of Ontario’s 78,000 nursing home residents. As association CEO Donna Rubin says, “This is the greatest challenge homes are facing in caring for residents, and we need systemic changes to deal with them.” No one will argue with that.
To be fair, Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews has taken steps, but the solution requires a more complex fix.
Front-line staff need far more behavioural training than provided in their eight-month certification programs. As well, the province must invest in separate facilities for aggressive residents, especially the mentally ill who would once have been housed in psychiatric facilities instead of living among fragile men and women.
Solutions may be costly, but they are necessary. Like it or not, Ontario’s massive demographic of boomers is headed toward old age and their demands for safety will, inevitably, set the agenda. Matthews would be wise to listen — and act.
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