Military denounces horrific conditions and mistreatment in pandemic-affected Ontario nursing homes

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The Canadian military has drawn the curtain on horrific allegations of elder abuse in five long-term care homes in Ontario, with accurate graphical reports from residents of bullying, drugs, inadequate food and , in some cases, left for hours and days in soiled bedding.

In the shocking catalog of military abuse, neglect and cruelty there is an accusation that delinquent care resulted in the death of a resident.

Soldiers were called to the facilities to support the provincial system, which has been overwhelmed by new cases of coronavirus.

What they found was recorded in the assessments of each of the homes – in Pickering, Scarborough, Etobicoke, North York and Brampton – and presented in a report to the Government of Ontario.

“It is heartbreaking,” said dark-faced Prime Minister Doug Ford today. “Reading this report is the most difficult thing I have done as Prime Minister. “

According to the report, conditions in two of the retirement homes – Orchard Villa in Pickering and Eatonville Care Center in Etobicoke – appeared to be simply horrible and inhumane as they were poorly trained, exhausted and, in some cases, careless staff faced growing care needs of older residents.

It was at Orchard Villa that the soldiers observed the suffocating death of an elder, who was lying down while he was being fed.

“Staff were unable to dislodge food or resuscitate the resident,” said the report, which concluded that the practice of not seating patients “appeared to have contributed” to the patient’s death.

At the same center, the report said, soldiers had to send an elderly person to hospital after the resident broke his hip and was not taken care of by staff. Other patients were “left in soiled beds, in diapers, rather than being taken to the bathroom.”

“Cockroaches and flies present”

“Cockroaches and flies are present,” said one assessment. “There was a smell of rotten food in the hallway outside. CAF members found several old trays of food stacked inside the bed table. “

Staff members were overwhelmed and exhausted, the report said.

“Respect for the dignity of patients is not always a priority,” he added.

Soldiers at the Eatonville health center said soldiers had witnessed “aggressive behavior” by staff – reports that sparked an investigation by facility management.

This is where the troops also reported seeing the drugging of patients who, according to staff, were “difficult or agitated”.

“But when you talk to them, they just say they are” scared and lonely as if they were in prison “- no agitation or sedation is required,” the report said.

At Altamont Care Community in Scarborough, the report said, residents faced “inadequate nutrition” because most of them did not eat three meals a day – and when they did, “undernourishment has been reported. “

It was also where a “non-verbal resident wrote a disturbing letter alleging neglect and abuse” from a personal support worker. The letter was given to the military doctor by the senior and the allegations were reported to the establishment’s management.

Several evaluations have identified unsafe conditions that could contribute to the spread of COVID-19, including cases where patients who test positive for the virus “were allowed to walk” and staff members left with inadequate personal protective equipment.

In his daily press conference today, the Prime Minister said that he was aware of the assessments and that he was saddened, shocked, disappointed and irritated by what he had heard.

“It is deeply disturbing,” said Justin Trudeau.

The allegations were first reported in an online story Tuesday morning by Global News.

The military compiles daily situation reports on the deployment and the allegations first appeared in these assessments in early May, within two weeks of the start of the deployment.

Watch: Premier of Ontario calls military report on long-term care homes “heartbreaking” and “heartbreaking”

Doug Ford promises responsibility and justice after the report described “extremely disturbing” conditions in the homes. 1:26

Troops are required to report abuse and mistreatment to the military chain of command or, if they are nurses or doctors, to their own health certification bodies.

The overall assessment, dated May 14, was compiled by the Commander of the 4th Canadian Division, Brigadier-General. Conrad Mialkowski, and forwarded to National Defense Headquarters.

It only reached Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office a week later, when other federal ministers were informed.

The Ontario government was not officially informed until Sunday and the Premier said he was informed of the situation on Monday evening.

The report notes that the concerns of the military were expressed regarding the management of each of the homes “collegially” during a series of teleconferences, starting May 4.

In the House of Commons today, the Conservatives accused the Liberal government of dragging their feet. The federal NDP, for its part, called for a thorough investigation of each allegation “and criminal charges, if applicable”.

“Anger, sadness, frustration”

The Department of National Defense declined to comment, saying the Government of Ontario is responsible for the institutions.

“Reading the deeply disturbing report, I clearly experienced a range of emotions of anger, sadness, frustration, grief,” said Trudeau. “It is extremely troubling and, as I said from the very beginning, we need to better support our seniors in long-term care across the country, during this pandemic and beyond.”

Watch: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on “deeply disturbing” reports on long-term care homes

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with journalists, including CBC’s Tom Parry, on Tuesday. 3:02

Trudeau said the report highlights the need to improve standards of care for seniors in long-term care homes across the country, and said the federal government will support provincial efforts to achieve this. ‘to come up. Long-term care falls under provincial jurisdiction.

“We need to take better care of the people who built this country,” said Trudeau. “The greatest generation crossed us during the Second World War. We must be there to support them properly during this global crisis. “

More than 1,675 soldiers have been mobilized to support five long-term care homes in Ontario and 25 others in Quebec. Their duties include helping residents with daily needs, cleaning the facilities and distributing meals.

It is unclear whether similar allegations of abuse have been made in long-term care facilities in Quebec. The Federal Ministry of Public Security has stated that a similar assessment is being prepared for this much larger operation.

Trudeau said that Ontario and Quebec have requested that the deployment of troops to long-term care homes be extended until the end of June.

In addition to the Orchard Villa in Pickering, Altamont Care Community in Scarborough and Eatonville Care Center in Etobicoke, the troops also help at Hawthorne Place in North York and Holland Christian Homes Grace Manor in Brampton.

A presentation from the Department of National Defense slide show, released along with the assessments, shows that the Ontario government has 27 homes for the elderly “severely affected” by the pandemic and that provincial authorities want the military to move in different establishments as existing establishments are stabilized.

A class action lawsuit was filed against Villa Orchard on Monday, alleging that the spread of COVID-19 into the home was “an unnecessary tragedy that has now caused 77 deaths and more than 200 residents’ infections.”

CBC News has obtained a copy of the statement. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

“Orchard Villa was not prepared for the COVID-19 outbreak and did not have adequate policies and procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said lawyer Gary Will, who filed a class action. .

“The results of this incompetence have been devastating for the residents of Orchard Villa. “

Sylvia Lyon of Pickering, Ontario, lost her mother, Ursula Drehlich, a resident of the house, on April 23 and will act as the principal complainant in this matter.

The lawsuit alleges that Orchard Villa continued to allow residents to sit together for meals after the Ontario government released strict physical distance guidelines in late March.

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