Many of Ontario’s long-term care facilities have operated under substandard conditions for years. The situation has been something of an open secret; residents, residents’ families, personal injury lawyers, and healthcare experts have long decried the lack of resources available to nursing homes, but the problem has not received widespread attention.
As long-term care facilities have become ground zero for COVID-19 in Canada, the wider public has become more aware of the conditions in which elderly and disabled Canadians are living. Last month, members of the military were called in to bolster overburdened and undertrained staff at nursing homes across Ontario. A shocking report on their time in the homes became available in late May.
The report contained graphic descriptions of abusive behaviour, neglect, infestation, hospitalization, and death. At Orchard Villa in Pickering, Ontario, troops witnessed a patient choke to death during a feeding. At Eatonville Care Centre in Etobicoke, they reported “aggressive behaviour” by staff and the drugging of “difficult or agitated” patients. At Altamont Care Community in Scarborough, they reported “inadequate nutrition” among residents.
Even before the military’s report, several class action lawsuits had been initiated against long-term care facilities in Ontario. Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers has filed a claim against Chartwell Retirement Residences, which operates numerous facilities in the province.
The provincial government has announced an investigation into its long-term care system, and the Ontario Ombudsman has announced an investigation into the province’s oversight.
“The Canadian Armed Forces report painted a stunning portrait of the situation in long-term care during this crisis; our investigation will look at the systemic issues that led to it, and will make constructive recommendations for corrective action,” Ombudsman Paul Dubé said.
Unfortunately, there is little evidence that expert recommendations to improve the long-term care system will result in positive change. After all, deficiencies in the system have been identified by numerous reports in the past, leading to minimal progress.
“We have been elevating our concerns about a growing number of long-term care homes for some time now,” said Ontario Nurses Association president Vicki McKenna to the CBC.
“We are grateful that the report from the military and the involvement of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has finally resulted in attention being paid to deficiencies in these homes,” she added, referring to the Prime Minister’s recent public comments on the matter.
While most of the province’s personal injury lawyers hold out hope that systemic change will be enacted, most are rightfully pessimistic. In the meantime, our firm is accepting calls from clients who have been injured, or whose family members have been injured, in Ontario long term care facilities.
For more information about our class action lawsuit against Chartwell Retirement Residences, or to learn more about our experience in nursing home negligence cases, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
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