Nova Scotia

No investigation into deaths of elderly couple

Nova Scotia's Health Department says it did nothing wrong in the case of an elderly Dartmouth couple in failing health who died within days of each other.

'No mistakes were made': Health Department

Nova Scotia's Health Department says it did nothing wrong in the case of an elderly Dartmouth couple in failing health who died within days of each other.

Paula English of the Health Department said Wednesday there will be no investigation into the case of Pauline and Ken Hartling.

English said if the elderly have the mental capacity, they can decide if they want to keep living in their own home.

"No mistakes were made. This was an ongoing, open case and things happened in the interim," she said.

Pauline Hartling, 92, died last month in a Halifax nursing home — about six weeks after her husband, Ken, was found dead in their home.

The couple's next-door neighbour Leonard Denham said Tuesday that the couple would still be alive if the adult protection services had done its job.

On Wednesday, the couple's nephew, Marshall Payzant, said Nova Scotians should be talking about care for the elderly.

"It's my hope that my uncle passed quietly and quickly. But it saddens me that the circumstances that ensued from that led to my aunt having such an agonizing way to spend the last few days of her life," he said.

"It's a difficult thing to balance the scales between someone's right to self-determination, and getting them the help that they need when they really need it."

Pauline Hartling died Feb. 5, about two weeks after being pushed by another woman in the dementia ward of the Shannex Arborstone Enhanced Care Nursing Home on Purcells Cove Road.

Prior to that, she had been living with her seriously ill husband, Ken, in their home. The couple, married for 46 years, had no children.

Pauline Hartling had been suffering from Alzheimers for a few years. Her husband, 77, had mobility issues as a result of having had polio and had recently been diagnosed with blood cancer.

Ken died over Christmas in their home. His body was found by Denham.

Denham had been so concerned about the couple that he called adult protection services several times — including just before he went away on Christmas holiday.

He said he was told the couple was doing OK.

The Denhams were home on Dec. 29 when they heard a knock on the door.

"It was Pauline. She had one shoe on and one shoe off. We brought her in, sat her down and we knew then that something was wrong. Ken was dead. I found him on the floor," Denham said, choking back tears.

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