The adoption of Bill 115, “An act to combat maltreatment of seniors and other persons of full age in vulnerable situations” (May 30, 2017) mandates all health and social service providers to adopt and implement a policy to combat maltreatment of persons in vulnerable situations.
For seniors who are vulnerable, the need for mandatory reporting of abuse is particularly compelling and indispensable. Seniors who are inapt, by definition, cannot deal with problems on their own and it is unrealistic to count on them to act on their own behalf. In such circumstances, they need outside help to detect abuse and alert authorities.
Salient points of the bill are:
- Long term care facilities must implement a policy to combat abuse.
- Reporting of abuse is now a legal obligation and includes health care workers.
- Persons can be held responsible for not reporting abuse.
- It is now permissible to install a visible camera in a long term care facility.
Reporting abuse is a big issue for staff in a long term care facility who are reluctant to report on their colleagues and who feel they may not be supported by the administration. Similarly, reporting of abuse or neglect by family members is not commonly performed for fear of retaliation by the caregiver in question towards their loved one.
The mechanisms in place to deal with incidents of abuse and neglect are of utmost importance. Bill 115 does not appoint any new additional body to be responsible for handing complaints. However, whereas previously only representatives could make a complaint to the local service quality and complaints commissioner, now onlookers of abuse can also report incidents to the local commissioner.