Nursing home negligence: A growing concern in an aging society

By , on June 2, 2016

(ShutterStock image)
(ShutterStock image)

You probably know someone who lives in a nursing home, or someone who has a family member who is no longer able to care for himself or herself and requires assisted living.  Ontario has more than 500 long-term care facilities, housing more than 70,000 residents.  As our population ages, the demand for long-term care beds has increased dramatically.  Moreover, many long-term care residents have both cognitive and physical impairments, making them some of the most vulnerable members of society.

While Ontario has developed strict requirements for prevention and reporting of incidents of abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities, unfortunately injuries in nursing homes still occur.  These injuries can arise from medication errors, failures to prevent residents from falling, physical and sexual assaults, failures to refer residents for medical care, malnutrition and dehydration, inadequate supervision, and other forms of negligent treatment.

Nursing homes are responsible for reasonably caring for their residents.  They are also responsible for ensuring that staff members are knowledgeable, properly trained, and monitored to ensure policies for the health and safety of residents are followed.  Injuries to a resident caused by a failure in any of these areas can lead to a finding of negligence, and payment of damages to the injured person or their family.

Neglect and abuse checklist

If you suspect abuse or neglect in a nursing home, it should be reported to management and the appropriate authorities immediately. You should;

*Keep a detailed account of events including dates, times, photos and names of staff on duty when a suspected event occurred

*Get to know other residents in the facility and their families. Ask them if they have noticed anything

*If you suspect a serious case of abuse inform the police and make sure that management and care workers are aware of the situation.

*Make sure the facility is complying with the law. Long term care facilities and individual employees are obliged by law to report neglect and abuse to the Director at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, under Section 24 of the Ontario Long Term Care Homes Act.

It has been said that the true measure of a society is found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.  As such, residents of long-term care facilities deserve the same level of respect and security as everyone else.

Adam Little is a partner at Oatley Vigmond LLP – Ontario’s largest personal injury law firm. For more information visit