Nursing Home Sexual Assault

Sexual assault can affect anyone regardless of gender, race, or age. The unthinkable act can even happen at nursing facilities throughout the country. Statistics Canada (2010) tells us that seniors are the fastest-growing age group in Canada. Even though it’s repulsive to think about, there are examples of nursing home patients being sexually abused. 

Elder abuse is a general term used to describe damaging acts toward vulnerable and elderly citizens and is fast becoming a common term as much of our population ages and enters residential facilities. Elder abuse and nursing home negligence can take place in many different ways – including physical, psychological, or emotional abuse, neglect, sexual assault, and financial exploitation.

The manner of this transgression is not only reprehensible but may also be legally actionable. Families of the victim may file a lawsuit and be awarded financial compensation if they can demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that their loved one was sexually assaulted while living at the long-term care facility.

In reality, however, it is difficult to measure instances of elder abuse. This can be due to many factors such as under-reporting, the lack of support and loneliness of vulnerable seniors, confusion about what elder abuse is, and a general lack of awareness, among other factors. 

Sexual Assault Signs in Nursing HomeSexual Assault Signs in Nursing Home

Within the elder abuse context, sexual assault in nursing homes is a hidden problem because it too often goes undetected and under-reported. There is no concrete way to determine if your loved one has been sexually assaulted in a nursing home. 

Your best line of defense is communication. The fact that many nursing home residents who have been abused are afraid to tell others about it is important to understand. Some may feel ashamed, or do not want to bother others. It can also sometimes be difficult to report abuse to the authorities for residents who have suffered strokes or other medical conditions that affect their speech or motor skills.

For example, cognitively impaired residents are often unable to describe assault events, the fears or the feelings of helplessness that they feel. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the warning signs of sexual abuse of your loved one, as reported by various doctors and experts. These include the following signs.

  • Sudden, unexplained changes in your loved one’s behavior or personality
  • Bruising around breasts, upper abdomen, or inner thigh
  • Bleeding from vagina or anus
  • Presence of a sexually transmitted disease
  • Trouble walking or discomfort when sitting
  • Irritation or itching in genitals
  • Bloody, stained or ripped underclothing.
  • Unusual fear and anxiety
  • Withdrawing from activities and socialization
  • Acting stressed or fearful around others, especially the potential assailant.

Nursing Home Sexual Assault Case Eligibility

Nursing home abuse or neglect cases are unique and often complex. To determine whether you may have a viable case, your lawyer will need to understand more about your loved one’s situation.  This is something that we can discuss in the free legal consultation that we offer. 

To answer your questions about eligibility, we will need more information, such as:

  • The incidents and injuries that caused harm to your family member
  • Whether your loved one suffers from any physical or mental limitations
  • Whether the care home – or caregiver – has any known history of abuse or neglect
  • The general appearance of your loved one’s environment
  • What staffing conditions are generally, such as if the facility is frequently short-handed
  • Any other information or evidence that may be helpful

Types of Compensations 

The compensation that may be available is largely dependent on the type and severity of the injuries and other damages that your loved one sustained. There are also no guaranteed outcomes in any legal case, but generally, you may be eligible to receive compensation for:

  •  Pecuniary Damages

      • These are easily quantified damages related to an injury or accident, such as bills for surgical interventions, doctor visits, physical therapy, emergency transportation and hospital visits
  • Non-Pecuniary Damages

    • These damages are harder to place a value on. They can include emotional trauma, disfigurement, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life and more.

We understand your need to put your loved one in a nursing home you trust that they will be cared for. If you see signs of nursing home sexual abuse or assault, please contact our lawyers from Diamond & Diamond.  

Reporting Suspected Nursing Home Sexual Assault 

If you have immediate concerns for your family member’s welfare, you should call 9-1-1 or call the appropriate local authorities. In Ontario, you must report any suspicious or known incidents of harm that your family member or any other resident may have suffered. 

To report suspicions that your loved one or another resident has been a victim of sexual assault, you can call the following hotlines:

  • Director at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care: The toll-free ACTION line is 1-866-434-0144 and is answered seven days a week between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. for residents living in a long-term care home, nursing home or a home for the aged.
  • Registrar of the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority: Call 1-855-275-7472 for residents who live in a retirement home.
  • The Director or the Registrar are required by law to send an inspector to investigate all reports of abuse.

For anyone wishing to initiate legal action in Ontario, there is only a two-year limit from the date of the incident or injury. In addition to the limitation period, other deadlines must be met, so we encourage you to seek legal help as soon as possible.

Get Legal Advice from an Ontario Sexual Assault Lawyer

Every citizen, especially our most vulnerable citizens, should not be taken advantage of. Although a lawsuit cannot undo the pain and suffering inflicted on your family, it can help to bring justice to those responsible for committing heinous acts.

The experienced lawyers at Diamond & Diamond are prepared to manage your case throughout the legal process and fight for the maximum amount of compensation available. At Diamond & Diamond, our team of lawyers relies on their reputation in the field and extensive experience in personal injury to provide clients with a dedicated support system throughout their cases including sexual assault and statutory rape. Call 1-800-567-HURT for a free consultation!

pro tip icon

Pro Tip

It may be tremendously difficult, but the best way to be entitled for compensation is to record/film the incident. 

Nursing Home Sexual Assault FAQs

Is elder abuse a criminal offense in Canada?

Concerning criminal law in Canada, as in most of the countries we reviewed, there is no specific crime of elder abuse under the Canadian Criminal Code, the federal statute that creates criminal offenses. Nor is there any other Canadian statute that criminalizes the mistreatment of elderly people in particular.

What should not be done in a nursing home?

Neglect, discrimination, abuse, and theft are the things that should not be done in a nursing home, or in any setting. Further, staff are not allowed to verbally or physically abuse patients, administer medicines that are not part of the treatment plan, physically restrain patients (unless they pose a danger to themselves or others), involuntarily isolate them from others, or take or use a resident’s property (that includes prohibiting other residents or anyone else working at or visiting the facility from taking or using a resident’s property).

Can a nursing home in Canada be liable for the action of its employees?

Nursing homes owe a very strict “duty of care” to residents, owing to the broad and important nature of the services provided to a resident, covering such things as food, shelter, hygiene, and medical care. Nursing home staff members are expected to do everything from providing medications to preparing food. Therefore, if it can be shown that the nursing home was negligent and that negligence played a role in the resident’s injury or abuse, then the nursing home and its employees may be held legally liable for all resulting damages.

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