In some cases, employees have been suspended or dismissed for physical violence or for swearing or shouting. The details are contained in the partially censored major incident reports obtained by CBC under the Access to Information Act.
One case went to a court in Campbellton. Mark Donald Roy was convicted of assault in 2016. The incident at trial began on August 22, 2015. At that time, Mr. Roy was working as a geriatric aide in the Campbellton Nursing Home. The establishment suspended him and then fired him a few days later.
Insults and Threats
The incidents to which Mark Donald Roy was involved are described in the decision of an arbitrator who supported his dismissal and in a major incident report obtained by CBC.
At the time, Mark Donald Roy and a colleague were helping a patient who could be aggressive at times. It was his colleague who reported his actions to the authorities. She said he was angry because an employee administered the enema late in the day, and the patient had expelled stool from his clothes.
Roy suggested leaving the patient in this state, according to his colleague who said he insisted they clean it. While performing this task, Mr. Roy launched an insult and a threat to the patient.
“Lie down old whore son or I’ll tear off your head,” he said to the patient, in English.
His colleague warned him to stop and calm down for fear that he would hurt the patient. She says she was afraid he was going to hurt her badly by putting on a t-shirt.
Nursing home rules state that employees must use a lifting device when moving a patient. But Mark Donald Roy grabbed the patient by the shoulder and threw him into a geriatric chair, according to his colleague’s testimony.
The chair’s brakes were not turned on, but the colleague jammed it with her foot in time to prevent the patient from falling on the floor, she added.
Roy declined an interview request.
Arbitrator Michel Doucet noted that Roy’s words and actions towards the patient were degrading, humiliating and unprofessional. He added that this kind of attitude is unacceptable and constitutes bad treatment.
Awareness for the administration of the nursing home
Ken Murray, administrator of the nursing home, describes this case as heartbreaking and incomprehensible. He says it was probably an awareness that such actions can happen in this facility.
The details are disgusting, says the Executive Director of the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes, Jodi Hall, but the Campbellton nursing home has responded well, she says.
Cécile Cassista, executive director of the Coalition for the Rights of the Elderly and the residents of the nursing homes, describes this case as appalling. She says that cases of abuse in nursing homes should be made public. She says it is common to hear about it in other provinces, but the extent of the situation in New Brunswick is not known.
Cassista explains that families do not always know where to go to complain. They sometimes fear that their relative will be deported if they file a complaint. Ms. Cassista wonders how many families do not complain for these reasons.
Little public information in New Brunswick
When cases of abuse occur, the Department of Social Development and the victim’s family are informed, according to the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes.
But the Association is not obliged to inform the public, explains Jodi Hall. She says nursing homes do everything they are required to do under the rules.
The government investigates cases of abuse but does not communicate the details to the public either. The Department of Social Development has declined a request for an interview for this report.
The government is not talking about these cases for several reasons, including the desire to protect the privacy of patients and not to interfere with investigations, says spokeswoman Anne Mooers.
Jodi Hall adds that cases of abuse are rare in 67 nursing homes licensed in New Brunswick.
Although the government licenses and inspects nursing homes, it is neither the owner nor the manager. However, the law requires the Department of Social Development to verify all reports of abuse or neglect by persons with disabilities or the elderly.
If there is sufficient evidence, the ministry launches an investigation led by a social worker. If it turns out that an employee of a nursing home has actually been mistreated or neglected, he or she is disciplined by the Nursing Home Association.
Dr Nancy Miller has over 20 years experience as a educator and health practitioner. She has a B.S. from Lake Head University In Thunder Bay, and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Guelph . Dr. Miller has worked as a special medical consultant for a major insurance provider before becoming a freelance health author and public speaker. There are several ways to contact Dr. Miller here.