“My mother was let down”:
The failings behind the unexplained death of Violet Lucas

Gary Dimmock, Drake Fenton, The Ottawa Citizen

Violet Lucas conquered more than her fair share of hardship. After escaping an abusive husband, she raised seven children on her own. She had only a Grade 10 education and when her children were old enough, she learned a trade and got a job in a factory. She stretched a dollar, shopped from the dented-tin bin, sewed and knitted what she could and made all the birthday cakes. She sacrificed, and made sure her kids, all seven of them, had what they needed — even hockey and her famous roast beef. But her best life lesson was instilling in her children the value of a good, formal education — something she never had. She didn’t want them to struggle like she had. The long-term care home and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that oversees the home have little to say. Her family is in the dark and has been provided few details. Months after her death, they await the results of a coroner’s investigation.  Lucas’s death comes at a time when the quality of care at nursing homes in Ottawa is under scrutiny. Following Citizen reports of abuse and neglect at three of the four homes operated by the City of Ottawa, investigations and reviews of city-run homes were launched. But Lucas died in a privately-run facility, which will not fall under the scope of the city’s investigations. Extendicare Laurier Manor is one of 23 other homes in Ottawa not run by the city — and not under a spotlight. And a spotlight is what Lucas’s family wants. Because while it might be unclear how she died, what is clear is that she was failed, not by her family, but by those paid to look after her. A series of failings by the home, detailed in provincial inspection reports, reveal, in part, what went wrong the night of her death. 

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