'He passed away in my arms': Man beaten in nursing home dies

James Acker — an elderly Alzheimer's patient who endured a brutal beating at the hands of another resident at a Dundas nursing home — has died.

James Acker was brutally beaten in an attack by another patient at St. Joseph's Villa nursing home

James Acker, 86, is seen here with his daughter, Tammy Carbino. Acker died on Sunday due to complications from a beating he endured in January. (Tammy Carbino/Facebook)

An elderly Alzheimer's patient who endured a brutal beating at the hands of another resident at a Dundas nursing home has died.

James Acker, 86, abruptly awoke in January to an attack by a second male patient in his 80s — who also has Alzheimer's — at St. Joseph's Villa.

Acker, who had been living at the Governors Road long-term care facility in suburban Hamilton for 10 months, suffered head trauma, black eyes, a fat lip and a swollen, bloody face.

Diane Acker, his wife of 45 years, said he never recovered and died early Sunday.

"I was with him, I had been sleeping there," she said. "He passed away in my arms."

"He's at peace now. He suffered a lot over this."

Acker's family says that he endured two bleeds on his brain, and that he could only talk a little. But he did answer with an "I love you," after his daughter, Tammy Carbino, recently told her ailing father that she loved him.

"We were told the last thing to go was the hearing, so we talked and sang to him," his widow said.

Acker's family has petitioned at Queens Park for greater accountability for what happened to him. Seen here is NDP long term care critic Teresa Armstrong, Acker's daughter Tammy Carbino, and Wanda Morris, the vice president of advocacy for CARP. (Tammy Carbino/Facebook)

Acker's family is not pushing for criminal charges, and say they don't blame the other man involved in this incident. Hamilton police did not respond to questions about any investigation surrounding his death.

Acker's family has long maintained the nursing home did not protect him.

A staff member watched the man wander into Acker's room and attack him. The staff member tried to stop the assault, but wasn't able to until police arrived.

"We're definitely going to see justice for James," Acker said. "They did not protect James, or the man who attacked him."

In a statement, St. Joseph's Villa President Derrick Bernardo said that staff are "deeply saddened and affected by this news and our sympathy is with his family."

"We continue to look at the circumstances in which Mr. Acker was injured to ensure we have not missed any opportunity to create the safest home possible for our residents," Bernardo said.

"The Villa responded to this incident by initiating a number of measures to ensure greater safety for its residents, including: increasing security walkabouts in secured units, further education for staff, installation of security cameras, and increased surveillance monitoring ability."

James Acker is seen here with his widow, Diane. (Diane Acker)

An investigation from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has found that the nursing home failed to protect its residents in connection with the incident.

According to the Ministry's report, the nursing home didn't act on problematic behaviour shown by Acker's attacker in the weeks leading up to the beating.

St. Joseph's Villa was slapped with nine long-term care act violations and was also issued three orders to be complied with by the end of next month.

They include a plan to protect residents from abuse, to follow a "code white" protocol and to respond right away to any incidents of violence and to better educate staff.

"The Ministry of Health report is something that we take very seriously, and we will continue to explore different models of care to help those seniors living with dementia in our community," Bernardo's statement reads.


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Adam Carter


Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.