A video (below) was recently released of a personal care worker punching an 89-year-old man suffering from dementia at a nursing home in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on March 8.
According to the Ottawa Citizen, the elderly man, George Karam, was punched by Jie Xiao, who was removing Karam's diaper at the Garry J. Armstrong long-term care home.
Karam’s grandson, Daniel Nassrallah, told CBC Radio why Karam's family decided to install the camera, which was in full view:
In the fall of 2016 and early 2017, my grandfather kept suffering from bruises, cuts and lesions -- mostly to his face and facial region.
Sometimes the home would have answers saying he fell out of bed, [but] my grandfather is immobile, so we didn't necessarily believe [that].
In other cases, they didn't have any explanation at all. We decided to install the camera -- just to keep people honest and accountable.
Nassrallah, who had the camera wired so that he could watch the room live on the internet, told the Ottawa Citizen: "I literally stood up and fell down, my legs gave way because I didn’t know how to respond to this."
"We have a camera on [Xiao], and even that doesn’t deter him," Nassrallah added. "To me, that’s mind blowing."
After assaulting the senior, Xiao made a shushing gesture to Karam, who suffers from Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.
Nassrallah called his uncle and brothers, and then drove to the facility while calling 911.
When Nassrallah arrived, he saw Xiao walking out the front door. Nassrallah asked Xiao to come upstairs to his grandfather's floor where the video was shown to the police, who arrested Xiao.
Paramedics took Karam to a hospital where a CT scan was performed. He didn't suffer serious injuries, and was returned to the scene of the assault.
Ottawa police Det. Hilary Rao described the video as "definitely disturbing."
Janice Burelle, Ottawa's general manager of community and social services, referred to the assault as "deeply troubling" in a letter to Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and the city council:
I deeply regret that one of our residents was subjected to this incident. The actions of this worker are completely at odds with our mission and our commitment to the health and the well-being of our residents.
Long-term care will not tolerate any form of abuse of residents. There can be no excuse for even a momentary lapse in the high standards that we, residents and their families expect of the people to whom we have entrusted the care of those who call our facilities home.
Xiao pleaded guilty to assault on June 27, but will not be sentenced until later this year.
According to Burelle's letter, the city is going to be sued by Karam's family: "I can also advise that staff are currently working with the ministry in response to other complaints relating to the same resident regarding his medical chart and care. This review is ongoing and does not relate to the personal support worker."
Nassrallah explained to the Ottawa Citizen how vulnerable his grandfather is:
A person in a state of dementia reverts to childhood. It’s fight or flight. My grandfather can’t fly, he can’t run away, he can’t get away from the situation, he’s immobile. His hands are being held, he’s being demeaned, he’s being thrown around in some instances, he’s not being taken care of properly. This is torture, this is punishment, this is cruel treatment.
Nassrallah said the family had previously filed complaints with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the police when it was discovered that a nurse had signed a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order for Karam without the family's consent. The DNR order was actually contrary to the family's wishes and Karam's wishes before he signed away his power of attorney.
Nassrallah said there were other incidents filmed by the camera, including another resident going through Karam's belongings and another worker taunting Karam.
According to Burelle, the home had a 95 percent satisfaction rating by residents and families in 2016.