Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Repeated assault alleged at care home

Nephew fears for safety of 96-year-old aunt

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A 96-year-old woman was allegedly assaulted repeatedly in her room at a Winnipeg personal-care home by the same male patient who allegedly punched her in the face last weekend.

The allegation was raised this week in the Manitoba legislature by Progressive Conservative health critic Myrna Driedger, who said she had been contacted by the woman's nephew.

"Why should this 96-year-old frail lady have to lie in her bed in a personal-care home and worry about when is that next attack coming and what is it going to be like?" Driedger said in asking Health Minister Erin Selby about the matter during Monday's question period.

Driedger said she encouraged the nephew to contact the province's Protection for Persons in Care Office (PPCO), which investigates harm to care home and hospital patients. She said the man has filed a police complaint, but that could not be confirmed by the Free Press.

Last year, the PPCO launched 141 investigations of which 30 were found to be valid. Physical abuse is the most common complaint, with 80 per cent of incidents carried out by fellow patients.

Driedger said what's most alarming is the nephew told her staff at the care home -- Driedger would not disclose its name -- were unable to contain his aunt's alleged attacker.

"They said they had to let him wander around," Driedger said. "He beat up this woman. He punched her in the face in her bed. He's coming in her room and she's trying to tell him to go away.

"The nephew is very, very upset. He says he put his aunt in a personal-care home so she'd be safe. Because the home said it could not do anything, he's petrified about what's going to happen."

Selby also encouraged the man to make a complaint with the PPCO, but it's unknown if one has been filed. The man declined requests made by Driedger to speak to the Free Press.

Selby said she's asked officials at the PPCO and Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to look into Driedger's allegation, despite not knowing the name of the care home or patient. Driedger has not shared that information, Selby said.

"Certainly, if we had that we would be able to go in and do an unannounced inspection and be able to look into this right away," she said. "It's certainly something we'd like to follow up on because our loved ones should be treated with respect."

Driedger also said she believes more incidents would be investigated by the PPCO if it was independent of government.

In a report three years ago, Manitoba's ombudsman said the PPCO had set too high a threshold for what constitutes serious harm to patients. That threshold required that in order to find serious harm, the abusive action must result in a consequence to him/her such as disability, injury, unplanned admission to hospital or unusual extension of a hospital stay.

As a result, the PPCO's definitions of abuse was refined, resulting in more investigations being launched in 2011-12 compared to previous years.

The ombudsman said the vast majority of reports received by the PPCO concern alleged patient-on-patient abuse in which the alleged abuser is a person suffering from a form of of dementia.

An ongoing inquest has heard there is no appropriate facility readily available for a dementia patient with aggressive behaviour who can no longer be cared for by family. The inquest is examining the March 2011 death of Parkview Place resident Frank Alexander, who died after being pushed to the floor by patient Joe McLeod and hitting his head. McLeod had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Provincial projections show Manitoba's population of seniors aged 75 and older growing by 91 per cent between 2006 and 2036, increasing the need for new personal-care homes and facilities to deal with cognitive impairments.

After a lull, investigations spike upwards

Breakdown of intake reports to the province’s Protection for Persons in Care

Year Category inquiries only Investigations Founded Investigations
2006-07 1,291 156 141
2007-08 1,405 55 37
2008-09 1,333 42 27
2009-10 1,554 35 25
2010-11 1,685 37 12
2011-12 1.967 127 47
2012-13 2,081 141 30

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 15, 2014 A6


Updated on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 6:45 AM CDT: Adds table

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