More violence inside a seniors home fuels serious safety concerns

Safety inside long-term care homes is being questioned following story after story of violence between patients.

Last month a 76-year-old with dementia was sentenced to life in prison for killing a fellow patient at a seniors home in Scarborough.

Earlier this week Peel Police announced an 82-year-old man has been charged with manslaughter, accused of killing a 79-year-old man inside a long-term care home in Mississauga.

Today, in Dundas, Ontario, an 85-year-old man with dementia is recovering in hospital after being attacked over the weekend, allegedly by a fellow patient, at St. Joseph's Villa.

Tammy Corbina says workers watched as her father was attacked in the middle of the night, taking roughly 15 blows to the head. Why? Because they're ordered not to physically intervene. "Patients with dementia, they're easily triggered by loud sounds so that was one of my first questions to the Villa, 'why aren't your PSW workers, if they are small petite women, why aren't they carrying alarms, whistles, bells, horns?'"

She says her father is now exhibiting behaviours she or her mother have ever seen. "Today for the first time he couldn't remember his name. A day ago he was exhibiting behaviours of paranoia, anxiety, and he was hallucinating."

Corbina doesn't know what the future holds. "Obviously, I don't think my mother or I would ever feel safe or comfortable going back to the place he was so badly injured in. We're trying to figure that out."

NDP MPP France Gelinas has been demanding the province step up and take action to improve safety inside long-term care homes. "We have close to 76,000 people who live in long-term care homes. Close to 90 per cent of them suffer some form of dementia."

In 2007, the province passed the new Long-Term Care Home Act. It decided not to put a minimum of standards hands-on care in the Act. "The care needs of the residents can not be met with the resources that are available to them," says Gelinas. "Because it was in law before, nursing homes and long-term care homes had to report what the average hands on care was. Because it's not in law anymore, no one knows what it is."

Gelinas has been campaigning for at least four hours of standard hands-on care per patient, per day. "I have talked with the minister of health about a minimum amount of hands on care in the law. He's not interested in that, whatsoever."