'Systemic mistreatment' of seniors reported in one Quebec residential centre

Workers said to be ignoring seniors' calls 'don't belong' in long-term care facilities and should leave, says minister

'Systemic mistreatment' of seniors reported in one Quebec residential centre

Workers at a long-term care facility in Quebec who have been reported to be mistreating residents should leave their place of employment, according to one provincial official.

"My message this morning is that employees who don't have the necessary attitudes to work with people who are losing their autonomy, with seniors, well if they don't fit in, they should just leave," said Sonia Belanger, minister of seniors, in a report from The Canadian Press.

The comment came after, last week, a report from La Presse detailed how the complaints commissioner of the CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal found several employees are not properly performing their duty of care to residents at CHSLD Robert-Cliche.

“According to our investigation, a series of services not provided by various job titles or non-compliance with certain policies affect the rights of users and lead to systemic mistreatment; in that it is not due to just one employee, but several who, due to inappropriate acts, cause harm and distress to a vulnerable person,” read part of the report by Alexandrine Côté, CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal commission, dated last January, according to La Presse.

In May, the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia (PANS) launched a campaign aimed at battling the harassment of pharmacy professionals in the province.

Attendants ‘refuse to carry out tasks provided for in the work plan’

The CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal complaints commission met with 38 families and 70 employees in November 2023 and 45% of families reported several problematic situations to the CHSLD Robert-Cliche.

According to the CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal report, detailed in La Presse, workers do not “know the residents and do not know why the medication is given”. Also, beneficiary attendants “refuse to carry out tasks provided for in the work plan” and that the recommendations of professionals “are not followed”.

“Some employees do not know the standards of care to be respected and do not validate them,” we read in the report.

"What happened at the CHSLD Robert-Cliche is 'unacceptable,'" said Belanger, who nonetheless spoke of "isolated cases”, according to the CP report published on CTV News.

She pointed out that the law on abuse, which was updated in 2022, provides for penal sanctions.

"There are employees who have been laid off, employees who have been suspended, there are labour relations investigations underway, training has been provided, there have been changes in management," she said.

The case could also be referred to Crown prosecutors, the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales (DPCP), said Belanger.

"Everything is on the table," she said. "As for what happens next, whether it's criminal sanctions or referring a file to the DPCP, it's all taking its course."

In April, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) said it is aiming to eliminate anti-Indigenous discrimination within the province’s healthcare system.

Improvements at CHSLD Robert-Cliche

As of May 2023, some measures to improve care have already been implemented at CHSLD Robert-Cliche, said Brigitte Brabant, director of long-term care accommodation at the CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, according to La Presse.

These include: 

  • A new management team has notably been put in place.
  • Meetings with families were held.
  • Employees have also been disciplined or fired.

The commissioner’s report detailed 13 recommendations, including that of implementing tools for “monitoring and monitoring the quality of care”.

Brabant noted that they have abided by some of the recommendations, including providing training to workers, and that they have adopted an action plan.

However, Hélène de Guise, whose mother died last February at the CHSLD Robert-Cliche, doubts the action plan will bring on lasting change at CHSLD Robert-Cliche.

“Several of the measures consist of ‘conducting audits’ or holding ‘watchdogs’ of certain practices,” she said in the La Presse report. “These mechanisms were there before and they did not prevent the deterioration of care… Why would it be different this time?” 

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