Hot! Shed light on abuse cases [seniors] – opinion/editorials
Published On Thu Nov 17 2011

The rape of a 71-year-old woman in a Toronto care home — allegedly by a male nurse — is a matter for the courts to deal with. But it can’t end there. Castleview Wychwood Towers and every other nursing home across this province must comb through the details of this case, focus on the warning signs that were seemingly ignored and make certain that lessons are learned.

The nurse who is now charged with sexual assault was singled out two months earlier for regularly disappearing on shift “without explanation.” Why on earth was that not followed up on?

The 77,000 Ontarians who live in long-term care homes are some of our most vulnerable citizens. We cannot tolerate a culture of secrecy inside these homes. There are no “judgment calls” when it comes to reporting abuse. It is not acceptable to deal with problems internally. And staff should never be punished for speaking out

But these are the very issues that an investigation by the Star’s Moira Welsh and Jesse McLean uncovered. And not just in the atrocious case of rape highlighted in Thursday’s paper.

In a North York nursing home two staff members knew that a colleague had assaulted a resident and yet did not report it. The Star uncovered at least a dozen assaults which, according to government inspectors, should have triggered an immediate call to the police. But officials either delayed or didn’t make the call at all.

Ontario’s new inspection system is far better than what preceded it. But it relies on resident complaints and what should be a reasonable expectation that staff are vigilant about watching out for abuse (by staff or residents) and that home operators report it honestly.

The case of a nurse in Cornwall who was hounded from her job with the city for “overstepping her responsibilities” after she reported abuse at a nursing home is revelatory, and troubling. Reporting abuse is everyone’s responsibility. The only way to err is to stay silent.

Inspection reports themselves also need an overhaul. Right now a detailed version is prepared for officials and a sanitized version is posted for public view. They commonly say that a home “failed to protect” a resident from abuse but provide too little information for people to know what happened or to know what to look out for in future. That’s not good enough. The reports must disclose sufficient information to help ensure transparency and safety for residents.

For all the positive changes that have been made, nursing homes are still opaque institutions where only the most dogged of family and friends can figure out what’s going on. Our seniors deserve better.

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  1. This situation reveals a horrible truth about our society today: one of the most vulnerable populations is being taken advantage of, and it seems as though no one cares! It’s surprising to read that officials and staff members delayed or did not report such cases of abuse, for whatever reason. Even more surprising is when a staff member is punished by ‘overstepping her boundaries’ for doing the right thing. What kind of a society are we encouraging when people are punished for helping the vulnerable? The elderly can be very powerless and unable to get help, so it is necessary that they are treated with equality and with care to preserve their dignity. They are rightful citizens and should not need to be in constant fear of abuse.

    This is very concerning, especially considering that the future generation requiring nursing homes is the Baby Boom generation. There will be an increase of elderly waiting for care and not enough care professionals to fill the demand. This could lead to an increase in elder abuse; not just sexual abuse but of all forms, including neglect. This editorial does well to shed light on the abuse to elderly, but now there needs to be a better solution to help them in their vulnerable state.

  2. Marisa Alamenciak

    I was in shock while reading this article. I could not believe that a 71 year old woman was allegedly raped in a care home, by a male nurse. What has come of our society today? Not all of the elderly are able to take care of themselves; which is why they depend on others for their well being. If these individuals were able to take care of themselves then they would not need to live in a nursing home. If they cannot trust the people who are taking care of them; who can they trust in this world?

    It discusses that there were at least a dozen assaults, but the calls were either delayed or the calls were not made at all. By not reporting abuse, in my opinion it is the same as that person doing the act themselves. It is the worker’s obligation to protect the clients, and because this was not happening the rights of the residents were abused.

    There were multiple types of abuse portrayed within this article such as: physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect. Abuse should not be tolerated, and when someone who is in need of help is being taken advantage of, something needs to be done about it. It’s unfortunate that worker’s report knowing about abuse cases, but did not stand up for the vulnerable residents. Nursing homes are an important part of society,and with the baby boom population getting older, there will be increased numbers within these nursing homes, if abuse continues or worsens what will happen to those who require the services? I am not trying to say that all nursing homes are bad, because they are a necessity within society. However; everyone needs to be on the same page and ensure that the safety and care of the resident’s is considered top priority. After all, if it weren’t for the elderly needing the services nursing homes would not exist in the first place.

    This article was an eye opener for me, to think of what could be happening behind closed doors. I think it will help raise awareness to the issue at hand, because elder abuse is a serious problem within our society. I can’t help but to think how many unreported cases there are, and how many of these crimes are going unpunished. This article brings about awareness of the issue of elder abuse, but there needs to be a better solution, so that this does not happen.

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