Ottawa

Relatives of patients at city-run care home shocked by fresh abuse claims

People with family members at the Peter D. Clark Long Term Care Home say they're surprised by news of abuse at the city-run facility, which they consider to be one of the best in Ottawa.

3 employees fired after verbal abuse of resident caught on camera, City of Ottawa says

Mary Sinclair, who regularly visits her father-in-law at the Peter D. Clark Long Term Care Home, said she's never seen abuse at the home but now wonders whether she should install a video camera in his room. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

People with family members at the Peter D. Clark Long Term Care Home say they're surprised by news of abuse at the city-run facility, which they consider to be one of the best in Ottawa.

Lynn Schwartz's 104-year-old mother moved to the facility last November. 

"Obviously I'm concerned because my mother can't communicate with me to tell me these things; I have to depend on the home to be open and honest with me," she said. "I do try to come back and forth, but I'm not here all the time."

Schwartz, whose mother has dementia, said staff have been responsive to the family's concerns, and that she hopes the episode is a learning experience that prevents future incidents.

The City of Ottawa said in a media release Thursday that it fired three employees from the facility after four incidents involving the verbal abuse of a resident in late August and early September.

'She's very vulnerable'

The four incidents were caught on a video camera in a resident's room. The city said it fired the employee involved immediately, and then two others who witnessed the abuse but did not report it.

The city has not provided more details about what happened, but described it as "disturbing and offensive."

Schwartz said she would consider using a camera if she suspected abuse, though she hasn't had reason for suspicion.

"I would for sure go to those steps to protect my mother, because she's very vulnerable," she said.

Lynn Schwartz said she's concerned about the incidents at the home, where her 104-year-old mother lives. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Caught on camera

Mary Sinclair, who regularly visits her father-in-law at the centre, said she has never seen anything to indicate there was any abuse going on at the facility, but that the firings have raised an uncomfortable question.

"That scares me, and I'm wondering — oh my gosh, should I be putting a hidden camera in my father-in-law's room?" she said.

Jim Duff said there needs to be more accountability at city-run long-term care facilities. (CBC)

​Jim Duff said he has been following stories about abuse caught on tape at city-run long-term care facilities, including the recent case of physical abuse at the Garry J. Armstrong home.

"There's got to be a better solution than having to have cameras," he said. "There's got to be, I guess, more accountability."

More staff needed

Wendy Vaillancourt's 77-year-old mother has been treated well by staff. They help her use her wheelchair, take care of her bathroom breaks and even braid her hair in the morning, Vaillancourt said.

"I'm shocked, very shocked [by the firings]," she said. "I hate to think [residents] are being treated that way, but, like I said, I've never seen it."

Following abuse allegations at several of its long-term care facilities, the City of Ottawa has ordered a third-party review and is conducting consultations on how to improve. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

But Valliancourt did say there's an important message city council should heed as it conducts consultations on how to improve its facilities in the wake of several serious incidents.

"Especially when there are people in chairs, there's not enough people in there. You have to have partners because some people are heavy," she said. "There just isn't enough people, they need to have more staff."

Vaillancourt added that the allegations have not changed her positive opinion of the centre.

now