One case of abuse is too many: McCarthy

In long-term care abuse can be caught and stopped. Media has role in educating public about prevalence of elder abuse in community setting, says OMNI CEO

November 25, 2011

The elderly in our society are among our most vulnerable populations and the subject of elder abuse is an important topic of discussion says OMNI Health Care president and CEO Patrick McCarthy.

The Toronto Star recently ran a series of articles highlighting serious cases of abuse in some Toronto long-term care homes, and Peterborough's CHEX TV aired two separate reports this week focused in part on what the reporter insinuated was a "disturbing" lack of transparency in two OMNI homes.

McCarthy says "one case of abuse is one too many," and OMNI's policies fall directly in line with Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care regulations in terms of zero-tolerance for abuse.

Abuse, he says, "is a difficult issue, but one that deserves to be aired, since it is our collective goal to achieve an environment where residents are safe and secure, and receive quality care in a caring and respectful way."

Both CHEX Newswatch reports were heavily slanted towards negative perceptions, focusing in particular on Riverview Manor and two cases of abuse in the home cited on ministry reports, and McCarthy understands the reporter's choice to focus on this.

"That was the lens the reporter was looking through, and that was the story she wanted to tell," he says, again pointing out that by bringing these difficult subjects to light, the media can draw awareness to an issue that happens throughout the community and is, unfortunately, many times more prevalent outside the regulated long-term care sector.

Elder abuse can take on many forms — financial, emotional or physical, for example, and McCarthy says the public is served when awareness is raised.

He does take exception, however, when falsehoods and dishonesty are present in media reports, as was the case in both Newswatch stories.

"It becomes a disservice when facts are skewed," says McCarthy, "and it unfairly portrays the vast majority of dedicated, loyal and compassionate people who work every day towards the enhancement of care for seniors in our communities."

He points to the first report, which aired Nov. 21: "Without contacting Springdale or visiting our home, (the reporter) stated that ministry reports were not posted as required," he says.

"A day later, the reporter did acknowledge we had advised her there were no reports or findings," McCarthy adds, referring to a conversation he had with the reporter.

She made no effort, however, to correct her error publicly and in her second report, which aired Nov. 23, she concluded by stating "but she has no way of knowing if that is true." 

"That's not fair or respectful of our residents and staff of Springdale, who have worked hard to create a caring, quality environment," McCarthy says. 

"It's simply dishonest."

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 24, or e-mail kristian(at)axiomnews.ca. 

If you have any feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 24, or e-mail kristian(at)axiomnews.ca.




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