City and province must get serious about fixing long-term care

The Editorial Board, The Ottawa Citizen

Again, a video camera in the room of a resident at one of our municipal long-term care homes has revealed the mistreatment of an elderly client. In this case, according to general manager of community and social services Janice Burelle, the camera picked up “verbal abuse” of the patient. “The language in the video is disturbing and offensive,” she wrote to city councillors. An employee at the Peter D. Clark Long Term Care Centre has been fired, and two other workers who were aware of the problem, but didn’t report it, were also shown the door. It’s reminiscent of the case of Georges Karam, first reported by the Citizen in July. His family, like the one cited by Burelle, had also put a video camera in his room, at the city-run Garry J. Armstrong home. It captured personal support worker Jie Xiao hitting the 89-year-old man. Xiao has since pleaded guilty to assault. By now, Ottawa residents have serious questions about how well our four municipally run long-term care facilities are doing at providing compassionate support to the vulnerable. Burelle said in her memo that the community and social services department is recruiting an independent outside party to review the city-run homes. Better late than never. In addition to these cases, there have been hundreds of incidents of non-compliance with provincial rules at the city’s long-term care homes over the last five years. This review is the minimum action the city can take. It’s not enough, though. The city is still being secretive in its public outreach – declining to open up its stakeholder meetings to the media, for instance. And we know that councillors are confused, or at least not terribly engaged, in the file: Start with the chair of the community services committee, who confuses long-term care homes with retirement residences, a vastly different type of housing.

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