Son of woman in alleged elder abuse video urges action
Anyone that is in power and turns their head away from the situation is as guilty as the people performing the acts of abuse, says Camille Parent
(PETERBOROUGH) Camille Parent had enough.
He wanted answers and was willing to go to any lengths to protect his 85-year-old mother. That meant placing a hidden camera in Hellen MacDonald’s long-term care room at St. Joseph’s at Fleming.
“I can’t tell you how I felt with what we uncovered,” explains Mr. Parent.
The alleged abuse started in August. Ms MacDonald had an unexplained black eye and scratches. In January, she broke her hip. Mr. Parent says the blame was put on a resident. She was pushed, but officials didn’t know by whom. He didn’t like how the situation was handled.
“We put the camera there thinking we were going to catch which residents were doing this too her because it needed to stop,” adds Mr. Parent.
The video -- which reveals wandering residents entering Ms. MacDonald’s room, a personal support worker putting feces near Ms MacDonald face and aggressively handling Ms MacDonald, and another personal support worker blowing his nose in Ms MacDonald’s bed sheets -- has shocked the community, caused the suspension with pay of two employees and led to an investigation by both Peterborough-Lakefield police and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
“It was just unbelievable,” says Mr. Parent.
“You wouldn’t do that to an animal.”
Mr. Parent hopes the video will result in charges being laid.
“We need to make an example out of abuse,” he says.
St. Joseph’s at Fleming chief executive officer Alan Cavell says he wants to reassure family members and others out there that what is alleged to have occurred in the video is a great concern. The alleged actions of employees is unacceptable, he says.
“We’re committed to making sure this is best environment and family members can feel good about their family member staying here,” he says.
Health and Long-Term Care Minister Deb Matthews says the ministry has no tolerance for abuse in long-term care homes.
“While I can’t yet comment further on this case, I can assure you my ministry officials are investigating,” she explains.
“Our government introduced the Long-Term Care Homes Act and we continue to work on the recommendations of the sector-led Long-Term Care Task Force on Resident Care and Safety because our loved ones deserve nothing but the best care.”
Mr. Parent says he recently spoke with Minister Matthews and asked her to resign.
“It is not only her, it is the government, both major governments, the blue and the red are ignoring this,” he says.
“Anyone that is in power and turns their head away from the situation is as guilty as the people performing the acts of abuse.”
While she has not seen the video and is not aware of the specifics of the individual circumstances relating to the alleged incidences captured on the video, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick, herself a former long-term care worker, said the union is taking these allegations very seriously.
“We do not condone or tolerate any form of resident abuse or neglect. We are committed to continuing to work constructively with residents’ families and the provincial government to ensure care quality in homes improves. We are also mindful of our obligation to represent our members in the workplace,” she says in a press release.
Recent media investigations into abuse and resident-on-resident violence in long-term care homes has put a spotlight on the pervasive issues that many experts agree stem from systemic sector underfunding and low staffing levels while homes are attempting to deal with a growing number of residents with complex behaviours, including dementia and Alzheimer’s.
“Imagine how much better care would be and how much safer residents and staff would be if staffing levels were higher, and homes had enough funding so two staff work together during shifts. No one is working alone and residents get the care they need,” she adds.
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