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Spotlight on elder abuse after nursing home murders revealed

Nursing homes and other care facilities for seniors should be places of safety and comfort for some of society's most vulnerable people. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. A highly disturbing story that recently came out of southwestern Ontario has focused a lot of attention on elder abuse in nursing homes.

A 49-year old former registered nurse has recently been charged with the murders of eight seniors previously in her care. Seven of the eight were residents of a care facility in Woodstock, and the eighth lived in a London, Ontario, seniors' home. The alleged murders took place between 2007 and 2014. The victims were between the ages of 75 to 96 years old, and it is believed the accused administered a drug of some kind to each of them. No motive for the killings has been presented thus far.

The killings raise the concern of elder abuse in the province's nursing homes and long-term care centres. The CEO for the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario said in an interview that this sort of incident was isolated. And the Minister of Health for Ontario said that seniors' home residents should feel safe, and that safety in nursing facilities was his "highest priority."

However, a lawyer for the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly believes that a lack of government oversight leads to more cases of abuse and neglect than the public is generally aware of. She warned that many victims of elder abuse are unable to report their situation to the proper authorities and that family and loved ones should always be vigilant. Anyone who feels they are being subjected to elder abuse, or knows someone who is being abused, should inform the police, and may wish to consult with an attorney about the matter.

Source: CTV News, "Nurse charged in deaths of eight elderly patients following long-term care facility probe", Karolyn Coorsh and Graham Slaughter, Oct. 25, 2016

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