Res­i­dent beaten at St. Joseph’s Villa

Fam­ily fu­ri­ous at nurs­ing home for fail­ing to pre­vent late-night as­sault by Alzheimer’s pa­tient

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - CARMELA FRAGOMENI cfragomeni@thes­pec.com 905-526-3392 | @Car­matTheSpec

The fam­ily of a man vi­o­lently beaten while asleep in his nurs­ing home bed is fu­ri­ous with St. Joseph’s Villa.

They also want to know why such as­saults can’t be pre­vented in long-term­care homes.

James Acker, 85, was taken by am­bu­lance to the Gen­eral Hospi­tal on Satur­day af­ter a male res­i­dent with Alzheimer’s went into his room at the Dun­das nurs­ing home around 2 a.m. and at­tacked him.

St. Joseph’s Villa ac­knowl­edged the in­ci­dent and say it’s in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

“Our pri­or­ity is to en­sure the safety and se­cu­rity of our res­i­dents,” said pres­i­dent Der­rick Bernardo.

The Gov­er­nors Road fa­cil­ity is owned by St. Joseph’s Health Sys­tem.

Acker suf­fered head trauma and has bleed­ing on the brain, his fam­ily noted. He also ended up with black eyes, a fat lip, and a swollen, wounded and bloody face.

Daugh­ter Tammy Carbino says he has since de­te­ri­o­rated rapidly — from a rea­son­ably high-func­tion­ing, calm and quiet se­nior with de­men­tia who could feed and toi­let him­self — to one who is anx­ious, para­noid and bab­bling.

“He was at­tacked in his sleep. His pil­low and sheets are full of blood,” Carbino said.

Nei­ther Carbino nor her mother, Diane Acker, want the at­tacker to be crim­i­nally charged.

What they want is for St. Joseph’s Villa — and all nurs­ing homes — to be made safer for res­i­dents.

“We want the story out there,” said Carbino. “We all have the right to be safe.”

Bernardo said he’s aware there’s a prob­lem.

“We know in­ci­dents of this na­ture are preva­lent in long-term-care homes.”

The prov­ince is work­ing on im­prove­ments, he said, but added the at­tack on Acker was unusual.

“An at­tack of this na­ture where a res­i­dent has sus­tained ma­jor in­juries is not typ­i­cal of our or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Staff were sur­prised by the as­sault, de­scrib­ing it as “un­ex­pected be­hav­iour” by the at­tacker, Bernardo said.

The Min­istry of Health and Long-term Care is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the at­tack, said spokesper­son David Jensen in an email.

“The min­istry in­tends to strengthen its … safety in­spec­tion pro­gram with new en­force­ment tools — in­clud­ing pro­posed fi­nan­cial penal­ties” to en­sure con­cerns are ad­dressed promptly.

The fam­ily says they put Acker in the nurs­ing home last March when his wife couldn’t care for him at their Wa­ter­down home any­more. They placed him in a pri­vate room, cost­ing $2,600 per month.

“We were so tor­mented do­ing this in the first place. It was an aw­ful de­ci­sion for us. There’s so much guilt,” Carbino said.

The mother and daugh­ter al­lege that Acker was also sex­u­ally as­saulted last Septem­ber by a fe­male res­i­dent who wan­dered into his room.

The Villa said it can­not con­firm this or pro­vide any in­for­ma­tion for pri­vacy rea­sons.

Po­lice were called by the Villa in both cases, says Carbino, but they told her there would be no charges be­cause the per­pe­tra­tors “were not in their right mind.”

Wanda Mor­ris, with the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Re­tired Per­sons (CARP), says such at­tacks are not a rar­ity.

“Some­thing needs to be done. It’s a sig­nif­i­cant and heinous prob­lem.”

Mor­ris says CARP hasn’t been able to find spe­cific statis­tics and be­lieves such in­ci­dents are un­der-re­ported. The Villa has met with the fam­ily. Carbino said far from feel­ing re­as­sured, how­ever, she now feels worse af­ter hear­ing more de­tails at the meet­ing that two per­sonal sup­port work­ers saw the beat­ing but could not stop it — al­though Bernardo says they even­tu­ally man­aged to dis­tract the at­tacker.

Carbino says safety in nurs­ing homes should con­cern ev­ery­body.

“If this was hap­pen­ing to chil­dren, peo­ple wouldn’t stand for it.”

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF TAMMY CARBINO

James Acker was taken to hospi­tal af­ter a fel­low res­i­dent at his Dun­das nurs­ing home walked into his pri­vate room and as­saulted him.

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