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How to report abuse and neglect in a long-term care home

Abuse and neglect can be emotional, verbal or sexual in nature. Abuse can also take the form of financial interference. The abuse or neglect may not even have occurred yet. It may only appear likely to occur!

Anyone working in a long-term care home who has reasonable grounds to suspect abuse or neglect of a resident must immediately report it to the Director at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, under Section 24 of the Ontario Long Term Care Homes Act.

This includes personal support workers, nurses, social workers, and physicians, for example. It also emcompasses hospital workers who are caring for long-term care residents in the hospital.

Family members and other caregivers are also advised to follow the same procedure that a long-term care worker would follow.

WHISTLE-BLOWING PROTECTION

The Long Term Care Homes Act protects all long-term care staff from being hassled or fired for making a report of abuse or neglect. If there is retaliation, the report can complain to the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

WHAT TO REPORT

  • Improper or incompetent treatment or care of a resident that resulted in harm or a risk of harm to the resident,
  • Abuse of a resident by anyone or neglect of a resident by the licensee or staff that resulted in harm or a risk of harm to the resident,
  • Unlawful conduct that resulted in harm or a risk of harm to the resident,
  • Misuse or misappropriation of a resident’s money, and,
  • Misuse or misappropriation of funding provided to a licensee.

HOW TO REPORT

The report must be made either by phone or by mail, as follows:

  • Phone the confidential number:
    1 866 434-0144
    (open 7 days a week from 8:30 am to 7 pm)
  • Write:
    Director, Ontario Ministry of Health ad Long-Term Care, Performance Improvement and Compliance Branch, 1075 Bay Street,
    11th Floor, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2B1

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

Once the ministry receives the report, it will immediately send an inspector to conduct an investigation if serious harm has occurred, or if there is a risk of serious harm.

Upon becoming aware of the incident, the licensee of the long-term care home must notify police if an alleged, suspected or witnessed incident of abuse or neglect has occurred that may consitute a criminal offence.

The licensee must notify the resident’s substitute decision-maker or other appointed person of an incident within 12 hours of becoming aware of it. Immediately following the ministry investigation, the licensee shall ensure that the resident and resident’s substitute decision maker (if any) are notified of the results.

“People get hung up on reporting, but it is only one step in a more comprehensive process in assisting victims,” says lawyer Judith Wahl, executive director of the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly. A reporter may be required to get beyond reporting and get to the root of the problem, because reporting alone will not necessarily stop the problem.

While individual homes may encourage workers to report to someone internally at the home, this action does not override the duty of workers to report directly to the Director at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.