Family files $5M lawsuit against long-term care home
It’s a grown child's nightmare, parents being who are hurt while receiving care, it’s even worse when they are repeatedly assaulted.
But for the Fulton sisters, that nightmare is only too real and they're doing something to stop it from happening to others.
Many have seen the tragic state of care in some of the region's long term care homes.
There's no financial penalty for homes who ignore the long term care homes act, who don't protect residents from abuse, just an inspection and a compliance order, an order for homes to develop a plan to start following the law.
For the Fulton sisters, that's not enough and so they're giving one long term care home over 5 miillion reasons to comply.
“I didn't know who she was,” says Myra McClain . “Just incredible to see that done to your mother, just terrible.”
Helen Fulton, according to her children, was beaten, choked and left to die in an empty bed - a sheet pulled over her- like a corpse.
Her abuser was allegedly another resident at Henley Place, a long-term care residence.
“He followed her and took her to the second last room, and beat her, real bad,” says McClain. “After she was beaten and they found her, the gentleman said to the nurse ‘she needed a lesson, someone needed to teach her a lesson.”
Helen was hospitalized for four months, her left eye swollen shut, her ear, bashed. With a busted lip, scratches and deep bruising on her neck.
“The doctors and the ER doctors said she wasn't going back to the home,” says Elaine Cleghorn.
Because this wasn't the first time Helen was allegedly assaulted there. Suffering from dementia and a known wanderer, she's been allegedly victimized several times- including just a month earlier- when another resident broke her arm.
“That was very unnecessary, especially after reporting it,” says McClain. “They should have been watching out and they never did.”
According to a statement of claim filed against Henley Place and Primacare Living Solutions, McClain witnessed a male resident pushing her mother in March, she spoke with the director of care and voiced her concerns for her mother's safety and the next month the same man fractured her arm.
The Fulton sisters filed a $5.65 million lawsuit against Henley Place, claiming the home was negligent and breeched its fiduciary duty to protect Helen and other residents.
Long Term Care Inspectors investigated the assaults and in one case found the home had in fact failed to protect its residents from abuse, but there was no fine, no monetary punishment for this failure.
That's something Laura Camarra aims to change. She says only two things will make homes listen.
“A substantial fine, not some small fine, and litigation like this to make them pay attention,”says Camarra. “Because right now there's a lot of language in the legislation that says "shall", but there are no consequences if you don't.”
In a statement, a Ministry of Long Term Care spokesperson didn't rule out fines in the future saying the minister has directed the ministry to look at all ways of enhancing the inspection framework.
There are no required staffing ratios in long term care homes, although a registered nurse has to be on duty, there is no specific number of personal support workers that need to care for residents. It’s a problem the sisters say has led to the abuse of their mom.
“The system is failing,” says McClain. “I've seen it too many times, too many times. Those people are ill. We put our parents in a home for a reason, for protection.”
“It’s a system wide issue. I don't think this family is an anomaly. My concern is, they are an example of a broken system and I suspect there are many other people that are dealing with similar issues.”
Helen is in another home and thriving, but the worry and anxiety won't go away.
CTV News reached out to Henley Place they have declined to comment. It’s important to note that none of these claims have been proven in court.