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December 12, 2011

Care Home Staff Told to be on Alert (CANADA)

Care home staff told to be on alert
 By Betty Ann Adam
The StarPhoenix
 December 9, 2011

Employees in long-term care homes who know or suspect someone is abusing an elderly person need to know it's not OK to look the other way.
"We want to make sure everybody's aware of that so that if you see it, you're responsible to report it because you're now part of it. You know about it," said Linda Hutchinson, a registered psychiatric nurse who trained staff at a Saskatoon care home about elder abuse awareness.
"I think people hear the word abuse and they want to turn their back or walk away. They don't want to get involved. The awareness now is, 'I have to report this. This is not acceptable.' "
The training at Saskatoon's Porteous Lodge was part of a federally funded pilot project being tested across the country.
The Promoting Awareness of Elder Abuse in Long-Term Care Homes project was launched this year by the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario and the Canadian Nurses Association to increase understanding among staff of the problem and to enhance their ability to respond to situations of abuse.
Widespread understanding and policies to refer to can help create a safe workplace atmosphere where staff know they will be supported if they bring forward concerns about things they've seen on the front lines, Hutchinson said.
"Staff are afraid of retaliation if they see one of their co-workers hit somebody or even steal or something like that. It puts everybody on awareness that we're all out there watching," she said.
"If it's nothing, that's fine, but at least they've brought it to attention because maybe there needs to be an investigation," she said.
Elders can be victimized in many different ways, including by workers' own unintended neglect, Hutchinson said.
"It's action or lack of action for someone placed in your trust. Sexual, emotional, physical, financial - many are intertwined," she said.
Abuse and neglect can be perpetrated by family members, staff or other residents of long-term care facilities.
Neglect of a person's needs can be as seemingly minor as providing juice to someone who asked for milk, Hutchinson said.
Abuse could be a male resident who sexually touches a woman with dementia or a visitor who steals money from a resident's room.
There are well-documented cases of serious financial abuse, such as a recent Saskatoon court case in which a man pleaded guilty to stealing $65,000 from his uncle with dementia after obtaining power of attorney, Hutchinson said.
"Its very prevalent. Everyday across the country there's something in the paper about it," she said.
"Very often in long-term care it takes a while to figure it out, but when the bills stop getting paid, when the family is no longer going to purchase clothing or provide haircuts or activity money and they're saying, 'No, no, no. There's no money,' it sets up a red flag that something may be going on.
"We involve the public trustee and the guardianship in Regina who would then step in and do some investigation.
Alert front-line workers are most likely to observe such abuse, she said.
Ten facilities across Canada were chosen to test the program, which is expected to be available to any long-term care home in the country that wants it.
© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix


SOURCE:    The Star Phoenix
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