|Hellen MacDonald & |
her son Camille Parent
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
A Peterborough Ontario Newspaper reported on the elder abuse of Hellen MacDonald, who was living in long-term care. Her son Camille Parent was upset about the care of his mother and decided to install a hidden camera to uncover what was happening to his mother.
The story states:
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.
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.
St. Joseph's at Fleming
“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.
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.
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.
“You wouldn’t do that to an animal.”
“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.”
“Anyone that is in power and turns their head away from the situation is as guilty as the people performing the acts of abuse.”CTV news reported on the case with an article titled: Nursing home abuse incident not isolated. CTV reported on the recent settlement of the largest class action lawsuit in Quebec and it concerned elder abuse. The article stated that:
A class action lawsuit detailing hundreds of cases of abuse at the facility was launched in 1999. But it wasn’t until 2003, when family members secretly set up tape recorders to capture staff verbally and psychologically abusing residents, that action was finally taken.
That scandal made national headlines and public discussions about the conditions in Quebec nursing homes and may have contributed to the suicide death of the hospital’s director.
Last month, the class action suit was finally settled, leading to the largest settlement of its kind in Canadian history. More than $7 million will be shared by hundreds of residents and the families of residents who have since died during the 13-year investigation.
The settlement is also unique in that it sets aside funds for foundations that are dedicated to educating seniors and patients about their rights.
Hellen MacDonald with her son.
Menard says he learned during his investigation that a single abusive act at one of these facilities is rarely an isolated incident, and that abuse often starts with small infringements of patients’ rights and then escalates.
He advises patients and their families to denounce the early signs of improper behaviour.The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition recognizes the scourge of elder abuse as a sign of a societal attitude that dehumanizes vulnerable citizens, especially those who are unable to defend or speak for themselves. We also lament the fact that similar abuse occurs in care homes for people with disabilities.
A society that has devalued the lives of seniors, people with disabilities and other vulnerable people to the point that abuse can occur without detection and basic protections for people who are supposedly receiving care are not in place, must not even consider legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide.
Elder abuse and abuse of vulnerable persons proves that any supposed "safeguards" will be ignored and abused in many circumstances leading to many deaths without request, as is happening in Belgium.
For more information go to: Physician-Assisted Suicide is a recipe for elder abuse.