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Elder Abuse in London
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The federal government recognized October 1 as National Seniors Day in Canada. It is intended to celebrate seniors, but rather than offering platitudes, governments should make the financial commitment to offset the abuse many seniors are facing. This year has been horrific for many seniors and our future looks unsettling.

The London St. Thomas Chapter of CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) is concerned about the level of elder abuse in London and across Canada. Elder abuse was a problem in our community before the pandemic, but COVID 19 has exposed the systemic abuse that had lethal implications for seniors living in long-term care homes.

Eight Recommendations to Reduce Elder Abuse in London

Elder abuse includes financial exploitation, emotional and physical abuse plus neglect and a violation of rights. Although there will be studies and commissions to review the issues related to retirement residences, it is the opinion of CARP London St Thomas that the problems have been identified and the solutions are straightforward. However, it is unclear if governments have the political will to invest the vast sums of capital that are necessary to address these issues. This is especially critical as the leading edge of the baby boomer generation has reached age 75. In a few years, we will overwhelm both retirement residences and our health care system.

The London St Thomas Chapter of CARP makes the following recommendations that we believe will significantly reduce the level of elder abuse in our community.

Legislative Recommendations

#1 Federal Legislation to Protect Vulnerable Persons – Although we have legislation to protect children and pets, we lack federal legislation to protect vulnerable adults, other than the criminal code. Currently, investigations may be conducted by the police but potential victims may be unwilling or unable to co-operate in the investigation. Vulnerable persons legislation, which would include an investigative body, should be established to investigate abuse allegations against seniors and lay charges when necessary.

In the Throne Speech delivered on September 23, the government promised to change the criminal code to explicitly penalize people who neglect seniors in their care.

#2) Long-Term Care Homes should be Governed by the Canada Health Act

This would allow for national standards of care and consistent funding across the country. In addition to the quality of care, inspections will be mandated and the results can be reported on a national basis. The latest Throne Speech stated the government would work with the provinces to set national standards for long-term care which is a step in the right direction.

#3) Fund the Appointment of Elder Abuse Ombudsmen in London Middlesex

Organizations such as Elder Abuse London Middlesex and Elder Abuse Elgin are volunteer organizations that attempt to identify and resolve elder abuse issues in our community. However, there are too many abuse cases to be resolved by a small number of dedicated volunteers. London Middlesex area requires funding for the position of a full-time elder abuse ombudsmen. Without adult protection legislation, no agency has the mandate to investigate an elder abuse allegation. The present order has agencies willing to collaborate with each other but no one has the mandate or authority to take the lead and go out and assess the situation. Creating a funded position would at least have someone able to triage, assess and get other agencies involved to respond to the needs. The community would have a single access point to call with elder abuse concerns. The local elder abuse network could focus more of their attention on education and awareness to the public.

Long-Term Care Recommendations

#4) All residents must Occupy a Single Room – The elimination of wards and shared bathrooms is a key step in reducing the impact of pandemics and the flu on seniors in long-term care communities. All rooms should be equipped with air-conditioning. Social isolation has become an increasing issue for the elderly and it is important that our long-term care homes not only protect residents, but their design will facilitate visits by family and friends.

#5) Homes must be Staffed to ensure Four Hours of Daily Care - The government should institute a minimum care standard of an average of four hours of daily hands-on direct nursing and personal support per resident. The four-hour standard was a recommendation in a study by Ellen Gillese of the Elizabeth Wettlaufer who committed eight murders in local long-term care homes in South Western Ontario. The current ratio of care is approximately three hours per day.

#6) Enhance the role of Personal Support Workers – Front line workers in our long-term care homes are often underpaid, overworked and underappreciated. Staff shortages can create unsafe environments. The focus must be on better pay, full-time positions, improved scheduling and restrictions placed on working in more than one retirement facility. The increased staffing would also allow for increased social interactions with the residents. Reducing turnover, while increasing staff morale would have a positive impact on the residents of retirement communities.

#7) Enhanced Infection Protocols – Our hospitals are leaders in infection control, and our retirement communities should copy their practices. Personal protective equipment, quarantine areas, mandatory masking, testing and access to infectious disease control specialists are key steps in restricting the spread of COVID 19 and seasonal influenza. Ideally, we would have an infectious disease control specialist in every long-term care home, but if that is not practical there could be a “hub/spoke” relationship with local hospitals. The hospital would employ the staff but they would work with specific long-term care homes to assist in the reduction or elimination of various infections.

#8) Develop Strategies to keep Seniors in their Homes - Keeping seniors in their homes and close to family will reduce the opportunity for various abuses to occur. Other countries have developed strategies such as home visits by nurses, seniors’ day-care centres and increased funding for home support services.

Most of these recommendations have been made by various professional organizations committed to the care of seniors, but despite the potentially positive impact, it will require a significant financial commitment. It is unclear if the political will currently exists and it is up to each of us to push the government to make the reduction of elder abuse a priority. It would be ideal if the term “warehousing of seniors” disappears from our vocabulary forever.

For further information, contact: Don Pollock - President London St Thomas Chapter of CARP
Visit the C.A.R.P. website:

About C.A.R.P
A New Vision of Aging is Canada’s largest advocacy association for older Canadians promoting equitable access to health care, financial security, and freedom from ageism. Backed by more than 320,000 members, C.A.R.P is a non-partisan association committed to working with all parties in government to advocate for older Canadians. Our mission is to advocate for better healthcare, financial security, and freedom from ageism. C.A.R.P members engage in polls and petitions, email their elected representatives, connect with local chapters and share stories and opinions on urgent issues.

C.A.R.P membership support creates major changes in government policies and protects the dignity of Canadians as we age. Members are also rewarded with discounts on over 100 everyday products and services they know and love from C.A.R.P’s trusted partners.

Power in Numbers
In May 2017, Canada’s National Census revealed that for the first time ever seniors outnumber children in Canada. There are now 5.9 million seniors, compared to 5.8 million Canadians, 14 and under. Federal and provincial policy-making that affects older Canadians is more important now than it has ever been.

C.A.R.P and its Members Have Successfully Advocated For:
Increasing the Canada’s Pension Plan (CPP): Pensions will increase from 25 % to 33 % of earnings. Eligible pension earnings will increase from $54,000 to $82,700 annually.

Restoring Old Age Security (OAS) Eligibility to 65: In 2012, PM Harper raised the eligibility age to 67. In 2016, it was restored to 65.

Securing $3 Billion in Homecare Funding: In 2017 the Federal Budget announced $3 billion in funding and extended commitment to $6 billion over 10 years.
An Extra $1,000 a Year for Canada’s Poorest Seniors
Reduced Senior’s Drug Co-pays in Ontario and Nova Scotia and influencing the Government to add new drugs to provincial formularies.