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2017 In Stories: Uncovering the hidden abuse occurring in long-term care homes

Elizabeth Payne, The Ottawa Citizen

Editor’s note from The Citizen: As we prepare to usher in 2018, it’s important that we here in the newsroom take a moment to consider the year that was. The news cycle has a forward momentum and it’s easy — too easy — to stay focused on the here and now. It’s essential to us as an organization, as part of the community, as individuals, to look back at the moments that moved us, the stories that changed us, and the people that we will never forget. 

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Florida retirement home shut down months after attack on 86-year-old

Elizabeth Cohen and Michael Nedelman, CNN

CNN – A newly uncovered video of a resident at an assisted living facility in Florida mercilessly beating another resident raises new questions about the safety of the elderly in places meant to protect and care for them. In the video obtained last week, a 52-year-old resident is seen punching an 86-year-old resident with dementia more than 50 times as the older man lay curled up on the floor. The younger resident accused the older resident of eating his cupcake according to law enforcement. The video was taken by the facility’s closed circuit surveillance system and later turned over to the police who shared it with CNN. The facility – Good Samaritan Retirement Home in Williston – had a history of violations, and more sanctions in the past than any other assisted living facility in Florida. In December 2017, two administrators were arrested in connection with separate incidents on charges of neglect and abuse.

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Ashley Down care home in Gravesend nominated as worst care home of the year

Chris Hunter, Kent Online, UK

A Gravesend care home has won the inauspicious honour of being nominated for a Worst Care Home of the Year Award. Ashley Down in Clarence Place was one of 14 homes named among the worst care providers in England by The awards organisers said each home listed was rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission, and careful consideration had been given of the poor track records of the nominated homes.

Owner Richard Mahomed said: “We’ve been trying our very best to rectify things and obviously we’ve been waiting for the next inspection. What has happened has happened. Some things you can argue and some things you can’t.” He said it was frustrating to be named in the worst care home awards. He added: “Obviously we are changing things. We’re taking each category as it comes. We’re just doing our best to achieve what is expected of us.”

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The biggest problem in long-term care?
Many point to low staff levels

Elizabeth Payne, The Ottawa Citizen

Virtually everyone involved with long-term care in Ontario has a story about staff shortages and how they affect the elderly. Over the past fews months, as numerous troubling incidents in Ottawa long-term care homes have surfaced, this newspaper has heard dozens and dozens of these stories, from families, staff and former staff. They include the former long-term care worker who spent time at her dying father’s bedside in an Ontario long-term care home recently. Overnight, she said, there was one personal support worker and one registered nurse on duty to oversee 52 residents on a locked ward for dementia patients. Every time one of the workers spent extra time with her dying father, she was aware that it left only one person in charge of everyone else — “which was ludicrous.” Then there is the woman who continued volunteering to serve lunch at her mother’s long-term care home, even after her death, because she did the math and there were not nearly enough staff to make sure all the residents got lunch —including growing numbers who couldn’t feed themselves.  And there is the nurse who no longer has time to say good morning to all the people she looks after. Low staffing levels have been pointed to as factors in neglect, poor care and even patient-to-patient violence in the province’s long-term care homes. They certainly are the source of frustration for residents, families and workers.

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Health minister looks to use new powers “to fullest extent” to increase safety in Ottawa nursing homes

Drake Fenton, The Ottawa Citizen

Ontario’s health minister has instructed staff to look at how newly acquired legislative powers can be used “to their fullest extent” in order to increase “safety and well-being” in Ottawa long-term care homes. Eric Hoskins’ comments follow a series of stories by this newspaper on Ottawa long-term care homes. Since 2012, there have been 163 reported cases of resident abuse, 2,033 instances of non-compliance with provincial legislation and at least 17 deaths that led to the homes involved being cited for non-compliance, an investigation by this newspaper found. “The operators of Ontario’s long-term care homes are entrusted with the care and safety of our loved ones,” Hoskins said in a statement. “With the passing of the Strengthening Quality and Accountability for Patients’ Act, new enforcement tools are now available to me as minister to ensure this trust is upheld. “I have directed my staff to look at how these new tools can be applied to their fullest extent to increase the safety and well-being of long-term care residents in Ottawa and across the province.” The Strengthening Quality and Accountability for Patients’ Act, or Bill 160, was passed earlier this month. The new enforcement tools mentioned by Hoskins include giving the ministry the power to fine homes up to $100,000 for non-compliance, along with giving the ministry the ability to suspend an operator’s licence and order interim management.

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