Country’s largest veterans’ facility under fire for neglect, abuse

Residents’ families complain of neglect and unsanitary conditions at Sunnybrook’s Veterans’ Centre in Toronto

Posted online by The Canadian Press

Canada’s largest veterans’ facility is under fire from several families with complaints their frail relatives have been neglected or forced to endure unsanitary conditions. They also say raising concerns at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre – among them delayed bathing and feeding, soiled sheets, dead mice in rooms, a lack of toilet paper, and constant room and caregiver changes – were mostly met with indifference or hostility. Publication of the complaints by The Canadian Press brought a swift response from the federal government. A spokesman for Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney says the minister is sending a senior official immediately to go to Sunnybrook to investigate the complaints.

Issues raised in the article listed above are similar to the experience of families who have reported neglect they have observed in long-term care facilities under provincial authority:

  • families tried in vain for months to get anyone to listen to their concerns;
  • caregivers who frequent the facility have seen patients verbally abused and handled roughly, basic care neglected, and a dire shortage of nurses in off hours;
  • there is tremendous fear of coming forward;
  • families raising concerns at the facility met with indifference or hostility;
  • efforts at redress stonewalled;
  • caregiver chastised for changing her father’s soiled sheets;
  • staff wrote the book on excuses, says caregiver who keeps a journal of incidents;
  • the last quality audit was done several years ago; and
  • constant staff turnover especially stressful for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia.