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November 20, 2008

Elder Abuse: Be Alert ! (Ottawa, Canada)

College needed to keep track of support workers
By BETH JOHNSTON
SUN MEDIA

Personal support workers should be regulated by a college, just like doctors and nurses, says the owner of a local health care workers' organization.

Last week, a 53-year-old personal care worker was charged with assault with a weapon for allegedly hurting an elderly man in her care.

David Waghorn, who owns Selection Health, which supplies health care staff to hospitals and nursing homes, said the profession needs a regulatory body to keep track of personal support workers who've been in trouble.

"I let a personal support worker go one week, they're working for my competition the next. There's nobody overseeing them," he said yesterday.

Waghorn said he hates to hear about elder abuse, but he's not surprised by it.
The job of caring for the elderly is demanding and often thankless and people who do it are prone to burnout. That's why he offers his staff flexible schedules and regular "sitting shifts" where they sit for hours with one patient. Staff in some nursing homes are overworked and frustrated, he said.

"When it starts to get into that, it's time to switch careers," he said.

More people are being charged with elder abuse because everyone's talking more openly about the problem, said elder abuse Det. Brenda McGillivray

"We investigate an awful lot of incidents of elder abuse," she said.

RELUCTANT TO SPEAK UP

"Everyone needs to be alert to the signs of abuse because seniors don't often report it. It's usually a family member, friend or neighbour who calls police.

"There are often complex issues involved, family dynamics, guilt and shame," McGillivray explained.

Many seniors are reluctant to speak up because they don't want to see their care-giver get in trouble.

Abridged
SOURCE: The Ottawa Sun
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