An alleged homicide at a long-term care home in Orillia has prompted an investigation of the facility by the Ministry of Long-Term Care.
Last month, 88-year-old Spencer House resident Kevin Elmes died following complications from blunt-force trauma to the head during an incident with another resident on Nov. 13.
Elmes had been wandering around the west-Orillia facility for one of his frequent walks when the incident occurred, a family member previously said.
"From what I understand, another resident came out of the room, one that he would have known, and they seemed to have exchanged words," said the deceased man's stepdaughter, Michelle Richardson. "From what we've been told (by the police), the man pulled him down to the ground and he landed face first on the hard surface."
Following the incident, Elmes was taken to Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital where a CT scan revealed he was suffering from a brain bleed.
A couple of days later, the bleeding had increased, but Richardson said doctors told the family Elmes's condition appeared to have been improving and didn't feel another CT scan was necessary.
Doctors told Richardson they felt Spencer House would be able to care for him in the state he was in, and he was returned to the long-term care facility, where he died Nov. 24.
On Dec. 1, the OPP announced they are investigating the incident as a homicide, and the Ministry of Long-Term Care says an inspection at Spencer House is underway.
“An inspection into the matter has already been initiated to ensure the licensee complied with the Fixing Long-Term Care Act, 2021 and its regulations,” said Mark Nesbitt, ministry spokesperson.
“The outcome of the inspection is pending. If non-compliance is identified, an inspector may issue a written notification and/or an order to the licensee to comply with a specific section of the legislation," said Nesbitt.
Richardson raised issue with how Spencer House handled the incident and with the limited number of staff on shift to care for residents.
"They failed to ensure the safety of residents as per the Long-Term Care Act," she said. "That is their obligation, and I think they failed miserably in this regard."
She said she complained to the home’s director of care on several occasions about the level of care and lack of staff on the floor.
"I've arrived at the home to find Kevin in his room, sitting in a chair naked in his own feces," she said. "I've found him in the dining room fully clothed, sitting in his own urine with his clothes all soiled, and nobody even noticed."
Not being able to find a personal support worker (PSW) at Spencer House was not uncommon, Richardson said. In some instances, she said she waited 20 to 30 minutes before somebody would respond to a call for assistance.
"There were times when only one PSW could be found on the floor," she said. "Of course, they would be tied up with other residents and would be nowhere to be found."
Spencer House currently has 151 residents, with capacity for 160, and around 160 staff members, said Nadia Daniell-Colarossi, manager of media relations and communications for Sienna Senior Living, which manages the home.
“A designated team of front-line providers delivers resident care 24/7. The home is divided into neighbourhoods of roughly 32 residents,” she said. “Each has a complement of personal support workers, a care support assistant, a recreation team member, RPNs and an RN. Additionally, there is a restorative care aid for each floor in the home.”
There are currently 491 people on the waiting list for the long-term care home.
— With files from Tyler Evans