Dementia patient found dead after wandering from Ottawa seniors' home

An Ottawa assisted living facility will review its security policy and install video cameras after one of its residents was found dead one kilometre from its premises.

Coroner to determine exactly how Jean Proulx, 80, died

Jean Proulx, who was diagnosed with dementia and diabetes, was found dead July 8, 2017, after wandering from an Ottawa assisted care facility. (Ottawa Police Service)

Moments Manor uses a GPS bracelet to track the seniors with Alzheimers and dementia who reside in assisted living facilities, but that technology did not seem to be enough to prevent Jean Proulx from wandering out of the building to his death. 

Despite an extensive search by staff and police, the 80-year-old Ottawa man who suffers from dementia and diabetes was found one kilometre from the St. Joseph Boulevard seniors' home four days after his disappearance.

The coroner has yet to determine the exact cause of death. In the meantime, Moments management is reviewing its security policy.

The Moments Manor assisted care facility on St. Joseph Boulevard specializes in caring for residents with Alzheimers and dementia. (Judy Trinh/CBC)

Afshan Badar, the manor's executive director, said Ottawa police found Proulx deep in the woods behind the building on afternoon of July 8. He was found without his tracking bracelet.

Proulx's tracking bracelet, which is still unaccounted for, indicates he was last in the manor at 6:23 p.m. on July 5. Badar says staff doing routine hourly checks on patients realized Proulx was missing.

"We initiated a code yellow right away," Badar said, which means Ottawa police were called immediately and the building was locked down while the head nurse directed staff where to search. The Manor houses 48 residents and employs 17 staff members.

"We informed the family as well that we couldn't find the resident. All the managers were involved in the search and so were my kids," he said. According to Badar, staff searched in shifts for more than 30 hours and watched as police brought in tracking dogs, a helicopter and a boat.

The doors to the outside can only be opened by punching in an access code. When asked how Proulx could have ventured out, Badar points to human error.

"We have vendors coming in. We have visitors coming in. We have CCAC [Community Care Access Centre] coming in giving care to residents. He must have followed somebody out, but we can't say who."

The reason why staff don't know for sure is because the building doesn't have any surveillance cameras, but Badar said cameras will now be installed. 

Afshan Badar says its likely a visitor let Jean Proulx out of the side entrance of the building, allowing him to wander away. (Judy Trinh/CBC)

Badar remembers Proulx as a "sweet man" who would often hold a staff member's hand as he talked to them. Although he didn't participate in many organized activities, he would often ask employees to take him outside for walks. 

Proulx never married and is survived by a brother.

Ottawa Police spokesperson Const. Chuck Benoit said the missing persons unit will also review the file once the coroner's office completes its investigation.