Last week, people across the province were rocked by the news that a long-term care facility nurse, Elizabeth Wettlaufer, was charged with eight murders of senior residents.
It is alleged that she gave each victim, from long term care facilities in Woodstock and London, a fatal dose of medication. While none of the charges have yet been proved in court, this case has shone a light on the need for nursing home reform in the province.
For one thing, nursing homes need to do more in depth background checks on the nurses or other members of staff they hire to care for loved ones. A recent report uncovered by CTV found Wettlaufer had worked in as many as five other nursing homes other than the two mentioned in the murder allegations.
Past reports have found she was let go by some of the nursing homes, so how is it she was still able to find another job afterwards? How is it her alleged unusual behavior was not noticed or reported, and how did the other nursing homes not find out about her alleged character when she applied? There may also need to be more of a psychological test implemented for those who wish to work at a long term care home.
Durham Region Council has already asked the province for background checks of residents in these homes, so maybe the time is right for a full reform of the way things are done.
As well, it may need to become commonplace to do autopsies, or, to at least, investigate the deaths of loved ones in long-term care homes.
These were eight people who’s deaths may not have been investigated if police had not received the tip by CAMH. It is also unknown whether there are any other victims.
People expect when they put their loved one in long term care, that they will receive the best care possible, and that they will be safe. Let’s make it clear though; a lot of nursing homes employ a lot of caring staff and are safe environments. This editorial is mearly stating that something needs to happen in the wake of these tragedies, standards need to be raised across the board, to ensure this type of thing doesn’t happen again.
Also, as previously stated, the case has yet to hit the courts, Ms. Wettlauffer is innocent until proven guilty. We are not stating any opinion on whether or not she committed the crimes in question, but are just stating the evidence proves a need for more reform.
It is sad for the families of the victims that were allegedly murdered. Hopefully this leads to big changes and greater safety for all seniors.
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