Wellington Terrace is a long-term care home located between Fergus and Elora on Charles Allan Way. GuelphToday file photo

A county committee heard of several “critical incidents” of abuse at Wellington Terrace in February earlier this week.

The discussion took place during a long-term care update at a meeting of the county’s information, heritage, and seniors committee meeting.

Issues related to resident care, support services, infection prevention, and control, as well as prevention of abuse and neglect, were found during Ontario’s Longterm Care Operations Division’s inspection of the facilities. 

The incidents included verbal abuse and rough treatment of residents of the county’s long-term care home.

“There’s a very far-reaching definition when you look at abuse and neglect,” said Wellington Terrace LTCH administrator, Suzanne Dronick, telling the committee all reported critical incidents were related to two staff members.

“I don’t want to minimize the seriousness of (these situations) but we always follow-up when (abuse) is brought forward…and we wouldn’t hesitate to terminate someone if they were found guilty through the investigation process.”

Provincial regulations define abuse as “any form of verbal communication of a threatening or intimidating nature or verbal communication of a belittling or degrading nature which diminishes a resident’s sense of well-being, dignity or self-worth, that is made by anyone other than a resident.” 

During one incident, a personal support worker (PSW) witnessed their colleague “roughly treat a resident,” but “failed to report the incident” until three days later.

Relatives of a resident later reported the PSW was “verbally abusive” towards the resident for using their call bell, claiming “the resident teared up and verbalized being afraid to ring (for help).” 

“It’s difficult to look at a finding of abuse and neglect in certain categories,” said Dronick, during the meeting. “I do want to reassure you that we have zero tolerance for that in our home.”

It was later reported that the identified PSW undressed a resident “in a manner that did not follow their plan of care despite the resident telling them ‘no’,” when the incident was investigated. 

“The PSW said (their colleague) should have stopped and re-approached the resident at a later time,” said Dronick, in the report. “Failure to follow the resident’s care plan for dressing put the resident at risk of potential injury and their individualized care needs not being met.” 

The PSW was also seen “aggressively” pulling out an elastic band from a resident’s hair without announcing or explaining the task to the resident and “as a result of the incident, the resident called out in pain.” 

Dronick confirmed during the meeting that this PSW has since been terminated and had already been removed from work when the abuse was discovered.

“What can happen is PSW’s aren’t thinking things through and aren’t necessarily reporting that gut feeling,” said Dronick, during the meeting. “We’re working on some education about over-reporting to higher-ups…just so we can look into all incidents further.”

The other critical incident took place when a registered practical nurse (RPN) was informed by a PSW student that another PSW was “rough with the resident during care.” 

While the home’s “Resident Abuse and Neglect Policy”, directed the registered staff to assess the resident involved in an abuse incident to ensure their safety, the resident’s clinical records did not identify that an assessment was completed for them and the RPN said they did not complete an assessment for the resident to ensure their safety. 

“We’re always assessing how people are managing and their care needs,” said Dronick. “So yes we didn’t do the documented assessment but we believe there was lots of care, concern, and safety in place for that resident.” 

This PSW was educated “around stop and go and their approach to the job” and has gone back to work. The Terrace managers have since started a plan for “further staff coaching, education, and charting improvements.”

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

By Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 12, 2023 at 10:01

This item reprinted with permission from   GuelphToday.com   Guelph, Ontario
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