Camille Parent, a Peterborough businessman, community volunteer and elder care advocate had placed his 85-year-old mother in a private room at St. Joseph’s at Fleming long-term care home in Peterborough. The care center was constructed several years ago on the grounds of Fleming College in the city’s southwest sector. Sir Sandford Fleming, the father of standard time, once resided in Peterborough.
And St. Joseph’s at Fleming was hailed as a caring and thoroughly professional facility, with buttoned-down protocols and excellent care.
But the facility suffered a bruise to its reputation after allegations of care home abuse.
The slide began with unexplained bruising appearing on the face of Hellen MacDonald, Parent’s mother and a resident of the home who suffers from dementia. After failing to obtain a reasonable explanation as to why the bruising - which included a black eye - was occurring, Parent took matters into his own hands and installed a hidden video camera in his mother’s room. He left the camera active for three weeks, before retrieving and reviewing the footage.
Parent was aghast at what he saw. So, too, is a city and the entire nation.
In cruel examples of residential care abuse, one care worker is seen handling MacDonald in extremely rough fashion in an example of Care Center Physical Abuse while changing her diaper. In another piece of footage, the same worker is seen taking a cloth covered with MacDonald’s own feces and waving it close to MacDonald’s face, as if to taunt her with it.
Other examples of nursing home abuse found on the tape: a worker making MacDonald’s bed is seen wiping his nose on her clean sheets; two employees of the facility, one male and the other female, are seen fraternizing in MacDonald’s room while MacDonald lay in her bed; a male resident wanders in through the closed door of the room and is seen going through MacDonald’s drawers, and possibly removes items, while MacDonald lay sleeping.
Incensed at this elder abuse, Parent took the video to CHEX Television in Peterborough, which aired the footage and broke the story earlier this year. Alan Cavell, the interim CEO of St. Joseph’s at Fleming, was shown the video as CHEX Newswatch cameras rolled. He appeared shocked at what he saw.
It should be noted that following his tenure as interim CEO, Cavell left the facility and a permanent CEO - the appointment of which had been planned - was brought in. The governing organization overseeing the facility, the Catholic Health Corporation of Ontario (CHCO), appointed a new Chair of the Board of Directors, and new board members were installed to augment existing members of the board who remained.
The four workers seen in the video committing residential care abuse were fired from their jobs. But that wasn’t good enough for Parent, who wanted them charged.
As reported by CTV News (9/5/13), following separate investigations by both local police and the provincial body governing nursing and elder care homes, it was determined that no charges would be laid. That’s not good enough for Parent, who is appealing to the Province of Ontario - the legislative body responsible for nursing care facilities in the Canadian province - to strengthen the law in an effort to protect seniors.
Advocates who rail against nursing home abuse are in Parent’s corner on behalf of his elderly mother and all residents in elder care centers.
READ MORE CARE CENTER ABUSE LEGAL NEWS
Advocates for elder care workers have defended caregivers as being overworked and facilities understaffed in a sector that is alleged to be underfunded (nursing and elder care homes are largely funded by the province, although there are plenty of private facilities available). Residents - especially those suffering from dementia - can be abusive at times and hard to handle.
However, even workers’ advocates note that the images of elder abuse care home negligence seen in the video should not be condoned.
It is not known if Parent is considering a care center abuse lawsuit. “I’m puzzled,” Parent told CBC News (9/6/13). “I’m sickened over this. It’s just totally wrong.”