Nursing home sex assault charge raises safety concerns

An alleged sexual assault in a Calgary care home has a seniors’ advocate saying elderly people should be better protected.

Similiar incidents 'frighteningly common,' says advocate

Safety concerns are being raised after a seniors' home resident was charged with sexual assault. 2:26

An alleged sexual assault in a Calgary care home has a seniors’ advocate saying elderly people should be better protected.

There is very little attention paid to their concerns or their needs or if they're being abused.- advocate Ruth Adria

Police have charged an 83-year-old man living at the Dr. Vernon Fanning Centre with sexually assaulting another resident in October.

The alleged victim, a woman in her 70s, is unable to walk and needs regular medical treatments.

Staff Sgt. Steve Lorne said police were called by a worker on the night the incident happened.

"A staff member heard her yelling, went into the room, noted that the male was in the room, didn't see the sexual assault. But there was indication through the victim that a sexual assault had occurred,” he said.

Carewest, which runs the centre in northeast Calgary, said it was an isolated incident and the safety of its clients is a top priority.

But Ruth Adria, who speaks for the Elder Advocates of Alberta Society, said such incidents are "frighteningly common."

“Unfortunately elderly people in long-term care are virtually warehoused. There is very little attention paid to their concerns or their needs or if they're being abused,” she said.

Adria said charges are rare, but staff members are the alleged perpetrators in most of the cases she hears about.

There have been 60 reports of sexual abuse in the last two years under the Protection for Persons in Care Act, which covers residents of long-term care facilities.

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