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Editor's Note: The Next Generation of Excuses

As this paper goes to the printer, the acting director of Alberta Health's Protection for Persons in Care (PPIC) has confirmed that three elderly residents of the Kipnes Centre for Veterans, in Edmonton, have been victims of abuse.

As this paper goes to the printer, the acting director of Alberta Health's Protection for Persons in Care (PPIC) has confirmed that three elderly residents of the Kipnes Centre for Veterans, in Edmonton, have been victims of abuse. A PPIC report states that Kipnes Centre staff "caused serious bodily harm to three clients through failing to provide adequate nutrition, adequate medical attention or another necessity of life without a valid consent," and caused two clients to suffer "serious emotional harm." How was this possible in a government owned and operated center?

The investigation came about thanks to the extraordinary efforts of residents' family members, whose complaints and concerns were largely ignored. One of them, Susan Carter, set up a video camera up in her 89-year-old mother Eileen Adamson's room. The footage she recorded was appalling: incidents where Adamson, who cannot walk unassisted, was hoisted roughly into her bed, berated verbally to "stand up" and her for pleas mercy ignored. Carter also found footage in which her mother was assaulted and dragged from her bed by another resident. After Carter complained, workers began turning out the lights or turning the camera away whenever they were in Adamson's room.

As a society we have guaranteed people like Adamson certain rights, at least on paper. We promised the most helpless or incapacitated among us that they will receive respectful, caring treatment and enshrined those values into law. Yet complaints about these centers are rampant-- everything from black mould to bed bugs, disrespectful language to force feeding and assault. Abuse and mistreatment become possible where a lack of value is placed on our elders' voices and lives. This has contributed to a lack of oversight and serious consequences for staff who are caring for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. The PPIC's recommendations-- of sensitivity training for one of the staff members who perpetrated the abuse, as well as generalised training for all staff on consistent client monitoring, safe lifting and handling and monitoring of wandering clients-- are just the beginning of the work that needs to be done.

None of us ask to grow old, become infirm or incapacitated. If we don't improve the care we offer today's generation of elders, basic self-interest should dictate that we do it for tomorrow's.

Neumann said the two staff members who appeared in the hoist video are not working for CapitalCare while the AHS investigation is underway.

Meanwhile, Protection of Persons in Care, the official government body that investigates alleged abuse in care homes, is also conducting its own investigation into the situation. That investigation is expected to take significantly longer.

"It's not the way people should be taken care of'

Alberta Health Minister Stephen Mandel spoke out about the video on Tuesday, calling the footage "very distressing."

"It's not the way people should be taken care of."

Mandel said the province is in the midst of setting up new standards and an oversight agency that will "have teeth" in ensuring that quality care standards are met. That announcement is expected in a few weeks, he said.

"We need to make sure we're more diligent and that people are safe and secure in our hands."

Mandel also said the Kipnes Centre has a good reputation overall, and that the actions of the individuals in the video was "an isolated incident" and does not adequately reflect the thousands of others who work in the care industry. Officers were called to the care home last Friday to investigate allegations a 79-year-old man inappropriately touched a 79-year-old woman.

Investigators found the man had dementia and could not form the 'mens rea' or guilty mind to knowingly commit a criminal act.

Police say they are not investigating any other incidents at the Kipnes Centre.

Another incident first reported by CBC earlier this year was reviewed by Protection of Persons in Care. The event was not reported to police.

On Thursday, Health Minister Sarah Hoffman revealed that police were investigating a report of abuse at the seniors facility.

Hoffman said that Alberta Health Services and CapitalCare have completed reviews at the Kipnes Centre. AHS is now monitoring the centre to address all concerns uncovered by the review.

It took a hidden video camera for Susan Carter to discover the truth about how her 89-year-old mother ended up lying on the floor at an Edmonton care home earlier this month.

Staff at the Kipnes Centre for Veterans called Carter on Jan. 2 to report Eileen Adamson had fallen out of bed.

"I was told, 'Your mom slipped out of bed, she's confused, but she's all right. We'll be monitoring her,'" Carter told CBC News.

But it wasn't until Carter reviewed the video from the camera that she learned what really happened.

It shows a male patient, who appears to be confused, walking over to the bed and peeling back Adamson's covers. He pulls a wheelchair closer to the bed, then spends the next several minutes yanking on the woman's arms, trying to drag her from the bed.

The events take place as a television is blaring in the background.

Adamson, who is wheelchair-bound and has to be lifted in and out of the bed, is seen gripping the handrails to prevent being pulled off.

"Mom is saying, 'No, you're hurting my arm. No, I don't want to go anywhere,'" Carter said.

"And then boom, her bottom lands on the floor. Mom's trying to hold on to the railing with her right arm ... you hear mom keep saying, 'Please, oh no, don't."

The man is seen dragging Adamson by the arm across the floor and off camera. The pair were spotted by staff after the man pulled her into the hallway.


Footage from a hidden video shows the confused patient pulling the blankets off Eileen Adamson, 89, and dragging her to the floor in her room at the Kipnes Centre in Edmonton. (Supplied)

Carter said she put the camera in her mother's room because the man often wandered around the facility, bothering patients and visitors. Despite the fact that the room was supposed to be locked, Carter said her mother often complained about the man coming in and refusing to leave.

"The man is a threat," she said. "He goes everywhere and people are afraid of him."

Kipnes staff can be heard on the tape shooing the man away. But Carter said they didn't mention his presence when they called her. And he doesn't appear in the notes that nurses wrote on Adamson's chart for that evening.

"There is no mention of the man being anywhere near the room, no mention at all of him being around," Carter said.

"It's not true. It's inaccurate."

She said footage shows the man wandering into her mother's room on several other nights, though this was the first time he tried to pull her from the bed.

Staff 'assumed' woman fell

Capital Care, the non-profit that runs the Kipnes facility, said staff at the home reacted appropriately when they found Adamson lying in the doorway. CEO Iris Neumann said Adamson was lifted up and placed back in bed.

Staff noticed the man standing nearby, but did not note it on the chart or tell Carter about him, because they did not see him touch her mother.

"[It's] what the staff witnessed, and they can only report what they actually witnessed," Neumann said

She later said staff did not actually see Adamson slip out of bed, but they made the assumption when they found her on the floor.

The fall should have been marked down as being unwitnessed, according to Deb Gordon, chief health operations officer for northern Alberta. She said Alberta Health Services has started an investigation.

"We don't know all the facts at this point in time," Gordon said. She said AHS was working with the Kipnes to determine the appropriate action to take.

Carter dismissed the idea that staff didn't know the man was involved, saying the aides who helped Adamson back into bed can be heard speculating that he pulled her to the floor.


Susan Carter says staff told her that her mother slipped out of her bed at the home. But a camera that Carter had hidden in the room shows the woman being pulled by her arms by another patient. (CBC)

She said the tape also shows staff telling Adamson repeatedly that she fell out of the bed, even after she responded with "no" when asked if that was the case.

She said the facility has offered to have a staff member supervise her mother more closely. But she said she is still worried about her mother's care.

"My trust in that facility has gone down to zero," Carter said. "My mom is not safe, and neither is anybody in that wing."

She said the family is considering moving Adamson to another care home, but they are unsure she would receive better care elsewhere.

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