Hamilton police say no charges will be laid in relation to the death of an 86-year-old man who was brutally beaten at St. Joseph’s Villa in Dundas. James Acker was attacked by another resident around 2 a.m. while he was sleeping in his private room on January 28, 2017. Acker and his attacker both suffer from dementia. The Acker family did not want criminal charges to be laid on his attacker. They would simply like long-term care homes to be more accountable for protecting residents and preventing deaths due to abuse and violence. Click here to read the full story.
James Acker’s family reacts to news that charges will not be laid
We are still just processing what happened. It’s a long journey and we’re taking it day by day.
I could have never imagined that I’d be processing the fact that my father was attacked and murdered at the age of 86 in long-term care. It’s devastating.
It’s difficult because we do want someone to be held responsible. But we don’t find the attacker responsible because he too was someone living with dementia. We feel that he, and my father were not protected from this tragedy.
But we want to hold someone accountable. There are a lot of grey areas in how residents with dementia are being cared for in long-term care homes that need to be addressed.
I’m looking for justice, that’s why I joined CARP. I’m their Ambassador working on their next long-term care campaign to prevent resident on resident violence. We’re doing research to make recommendations to government.
Resident-on-resident violence in long-term care is a systematic problem that has been going on for decades.
There were 60 homicide cases in last 12 years. A W5 report on research from the University of Toronto revealed that there were over 10,000 cases of resident-on-resident violence in one year.
There are many areas that need to be addressed that CARP is looking at in our policy when making recommendations to give to government. For example, the ratio of residents to staff needs to increase, there is currently no mandatory ratio. St. Joseph’s Villa, where my father lived, only mandates that one registered nursing staff is present at all times; for the 300 residents there.
Also, many homes reduce staff at night, but there is a term called “sundowning” which describes increased activity for people with dementia during the night hours. It’s during this time that they need increased care and supervision.
This is not a new problem, and I’m not the first to speak out. It was very difficult for me to share the photos of my father with his beaten face with the public, the government, and the media. I felt ashamed that we, his family, failed him. It was painful but it was necessary because we need to keep resident safety in the spotlight so we can create change.
My hope is that we will see changes at the legislative level that can make a difference. My hope is that these preventable tragedies begin to actually be prevented!
Inspections vs. Investigations
There was an investigation by the Ministry of Health and Long-term care after my father’s death. But the home was not even given a fine despite violations.
I’m not satisfied with the process. The government should be doing regular investigations not just when someone is killed. “Inspections” are not enough.
This is not just a St. Joseph’s Villa problem, this affects thousands of residents and their families across Canada.
Better legislation and investigations to prevent violence is absolutely necessary.
My intention of working with CARP is to do the research to make policy recommendations to create legislation changes. Some examples include: increasing the staff-resident ratio and improving specialized training for PSW’s (personal care workers) when working with dementia patients.
CARP will also reach out to its members to gather their experiences as well. Thank you for supporting CARP’s advocacy to protect long-term care residents.
Residents need protection from abuse in Long-Term Care Homes
CARP, Canada’s largest advocacy group for older Canadians calls abuse in long-term care homes ‘a growing crisis.’ On June 26th, under pressure from CARP and other advocacy groups, the Ontario Government Announced an Independent Public Inquiry into the Wettlaufer case and the oversight system in long-term care.
A month later, Ontario launched its independent public inquiry by announcing a Commissioner as well as its scope. Justice Eileen Gillese has been asked to inquire into the circumstances and systemic issues which may have contributed to the assault and death of residents who were under the care of Elizabeth Wettlaufer, a former registered nurse in long-term care homes in southwestern Ontario. The inquiry will help get answers to make sure a tragedy like this never happens again. Read more about the details of the Independent Public Inquiry.
Write your Provincially Elected Representative
You Can Help!
1. Email Your Provincially Elected Representative and demand they make the safety of our most vulnerable seniors in Canada’s Long-Term Care homes a priority. See form below.
Unfortunately, there were 3,250 incidents of abuse reported last year. Sadly, many more go unreported. Please tell the Government to act today!