Your Personal Injury Lawyers
Call 1-888-404-5167
Preszler Injury Lawyers

Nursing Home Abuse in Ontario: Knowing your Rights and Responsibilities

Nursing homes are a part of the fabric of society today. Many families rely on nursing homes to provide much needed care for their loved ones for a variety of reasons. Nursing homes are supposed to be safe havens for our seniors to be cared for in a caring environment which does not subject them to unnecessary safety and security risks.

However, the opposite is becoming all too common in Ontario nursing homes and virtually in such places around the world. It is, unfortunately, not unusual to read about cases of nursing home residents because neglected, beaten and even sexually assaulted by nursing home staff. In fact, staff-to-resident abuse in long-term care homes are up a massive 148% from the numbers reported just a few years ago in 2011. The news articles on this topic are frightening and give families good reason for concern in keeping their loved ones safe as residents of nursing homes.

What are the risks to nursing home residents?

Nursing home residents are often more vulnerable

One of the issues that complicates the safety of loved ones who are nursing home residents is that often such residents have dementia or other cognitive impairments that make it difficult for the resident to communicate when things go wrong. This also makes nursing home residents especially vulnerable to abuse because staff members know that they can engage in behavior that would otherwise not be tolerated by residents who had full cognitive abilities.

Staffing ratios are often inadequate

In light of the fact that more nursing home residents have dementia or other cognitive impairments, many nursing homes have not adequately increased their staffing levels to appropriate levels to handle the extra care and security concerns that arise when caring for cognitively impaired nursing home residents.

Security systems may provide additional security and safety to residents, but they’re not universally implemented

Some nursing homes have instituted greater levels of security systems to protect both residents and staff as well. However, the cost of doing so on a whole scale basis is substantial and there is a fundamental concern about interfering with a resident’s right to privacy. At present, security systems including cameras are not adequate to fully protect residents.

Staff screening processes cannot catch everything

While there are certainly background screening requirements that apply to employees in nursing homes, those processes are only good at catching previous legal violations that might be of concern. There is no guarantee that staff members who have previously engaged in abuse of residents at another facility which went undetected will not be employed by a subsequent facility. There is a trend also that often when nursing homes do discover problem employees, they do not properly report abuse or other violations to law enforcement as they should. This simply makes the problem worse for all involved.

Medication errors are common

Another significant cause of injuries and deaths in nursing homes is medication errors. Sometimes staff do not pay sufficient attention to the dosing of medications or ensuring that the correct patient receives their prescribed medications.

Simple neglect

Another very common complaint of nursing home residents and their families is simply a failure to provide adequate care. This can be as simple as answering a call light, providing adequate nutrition and hydration and ensuring that a resident’s basic needs are met. This can be particularly frustrating for families who are paying substantial sums of money for a high level of care, yet their family member’s basic needs are not being met.

If a resident of a nursing home is injured or the victim of nursing home abuse, how can a family go about having such abuse addressed in the legal system?

Criminal charges

In some cases, depending on the nature of the allegations, criminal charges may be appropriate. If a family member becomes aware of serious allegations of abuse involving his or her family member, those should promptly be reported to law enforcement as well as the nursing home management.

A high profile and well publicized case involving a famous Canadian Portrait Artist Danae Chambers hits home how serious these situations can be. Ms. Chambers, who suffered from dementia, was sexually assaulted at the hands of a nursing home employee who was a registered practical nurse in the facility where she lived. The incident was discovered by another employee who then reported it. Particularly troubling in this case was that other staff had noticed that this employee had often been unaccounted for during his shifts for extended periods of time. Clearly this is something that the nursing home should have investigated when information was received that put management on notice of serious concerns.

In this case, the perpetrator faced criminal charges and the nursing home also faced civil liability for failing to protect its resident in this case.

Negligence claims

Nursing homes can be liable for negligence in connection with the care of its residents. They owe a duty to exercise reasonable care on many fronts including the hiring and supervision of employees, ensuring that conditions in the nursing home are safe and not presenting conditions that create an unreasonable risk of harm.

An unfortunate issue in this area of the law is so often many claims go unreported either by family members or the nursing homes themselves. This can lead to additional instances of residents being assaulted or injured.

In light of the Chambers matter referred to above, there was a great push to increase reporting and investigation of nursing home abuse complaints. However, this still depends greatly on nursing homes adequately reporting incidents when the occur. Thus, it is not a perfect system and nursing homes have every incentive to cover up problems that occur.

Seeking help in the face of nursing home abuse

If you or your family member are injured in a nursing home, it is critical to seek out competent legal advice as soon as possible.

Investigations may need to be undertaken to determine what types of negligence claims exist and the process for pursuing those claims.

Depending on the type of claim involved, there are many potential options available to families of nursing home patients for addressing wrongs that they have suffered in nursing homes.

All nursing home residents deserve to be cared for in an environment that will not cause harm to them. The legal process available to families to remedy such injuries is designed to not only compensate victims and their families but to also ensure that other families do not face the same issues at the hands of nursing homes.

Call us now at

151 Eglinton Ave W,
Toronto, ON
M4R 1A6
Fax: 1-855-364-7027
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
4145 N Service Rd
Burlington, ON
L7L 4X6
Fax: 1-855-364-7027
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
2 County Ct Blvd #400,
Brampton, ON
L6W 3W8
Fax: 1-855-364-7027
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
105 Consumers Drive
Whitby, ON
L1N 1C4
Fax: 1-855-364-7027
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
92 Caplan Ave #121,
Barrie, ON
L4N 0Z7
Fax: 1-855-364-7027
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
380 Wellington St Tower B, 6th Floor,
London, ON
N6A 5B5
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
2233 Argentia Rd Suite 302,
East Tower Mississauga, ON
L5N 6A6
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
1 Hunter St E,
Hamilton, ON
L8N 3W1
Fax: 1-855-364-7027
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
459 George St N,
Peterborough, ON
K9H 3R9
Fax: 1-855-364-7027
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
22 Frederick Street,
Suite 700
Kitchener, ON N2H 6M6
Fax: 1-855-364-7027
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
116 Lisgar Street, Suite 300
Ottawa ON
K2P 0C2
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
10 Milner Business Ct #300,
Scarborough, ON
M1B 3C6
Toll Free: 1-888-608-2111
*consultation offices

DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that the header image and other images throughout this website may include both lawyer and non-lawyer/paralegal employees of Preszler Injury Lawyers and DPJP Professional Corporation and unrelated third parties. Our spokesperson John Fraser, or any other non-lawyer/paralegals in our marketing is not to be construed in any way as misleading to the public. Our marketing efforts are not intended to suggest qualitative superiority to other lawyers, paralegals or law firms in any way. Any questions regarding the usage of non-lawyers in our legal marketing or otherwise can be directed to our management team. Please also note that past results are not indicative of future results and that each case is unique and that case results listed on site are from experiences across Canada and are not specific to any province. Please be advised that some of the content on this website may be out of date. None of the content is intended to act as legal advice as each situation is independent and unique and requires individual legal advice from a licensed lawyer or paralegal. For legal advice on your individual situation – we can provide legal guidance after you have contacted our firm and we have established a lawyer-client relationship contractually. Maximum contingency fee charged is 33%. Finally, our usage of awards and logos for awards does not suggest qualitative superiority to other lawyers, paralegals or law firms. All awards received from third party organizations have been done so through their own reasonable evaluative process and do not include any payment for these awards except for the use of the award logos for our marketing assets. We are also proud to service additional provinces like Alberta, British Columbia and Nova Scotia.