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Family calling for speedier investigations after assault charges dropped

One woman says she wants to see investigations into abuse allegations for people living in care homes sped up.

Dianna Klassen says her father David Middleton was physically and sexually abused at Oakview Place Care Home. She says he received excellent care for most of his stay at the home, but after he died she read a statement from a whistleblower learning her dad had been abused.

 According to Klassen, in a whistleblower's report in June 2022, she learned her father was touched inappropriately and a pillow was held over his head to prevent him from screaming.

 Klassen says he was one of 15 residents a whistleblower named to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority as being abused.

 Two health care aid workers were charged - each with one count of assault. Klassen was told because her father had died that charges couldn’t be pressed.

 The charges were stayed in May, with the Crown prosecutor saying there is no longer a reasonable likelihood of conviction.

 Laura Tamblyn Watts is a lawyer and the CEO of seniors’ advocacy group CanAge. She says across Canada, it's not uncommon for care home abuse or neglect reports to be dropped at the prosecutorial stage.

"We have seen this time and time again, a lack of prosecution of either care homes themselves or individuals who work in care homes,” Tamblyn Watts says.

"It’s time that we stop the ageist attitude and in fact prosecute cases of assault and abuse in personal care homes in Manitoba and across the country."

Klassen says she didn't know her father was being abused.

She says her father - who had a stroke years earlier - had difficulty communicating and was unable to tell her or other workers what happened.

Tamblyn Watts says abuse victims don't need to talk about the incident or remember the incident for it to have happened.

"You do not necessarily need to have a live witness there for the abuse when you can accumulate evidence,” Tamblyn Watts says.

Tamblyn Watts and Klassen both say they want to see more done to investigate abuse in care homes.

A provincial spokesperson says if there is a reason to believe abuse or neglect occurred, it’s investigated as part of the Protection for Persons in Care Act.

If it concludes abuse occurred, the individual could be referred to the adult abuse registry committee. Top Stories

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