A year ago, Diana Pepin installed a video camera in her disabled mother’s room after she said she had a bad feeling about the long-term care facility.
Her 85-year-old mother can’t walk and can’t talk, so Pepin felt after witnessing incidents she said put her mother at risk, she needed to be her protection.
“I had to replace my eyes with other eyes, and the camera is eyes.”
Pepin’s instincts culminated Thursday when the City of Ottawa fired three workers at the municipally run Peter D. Clark Long Term Care Centre over incidents of verbal abuse described as “disturbing and offensive” were captured on video.
It was the culmination of a three-year battle Pepin had been fighting with the long-term care home, including a no trespassing order filed against her, she said.
But Pepin said she was never prepared for what that camera would capture in late August and early September.
“I saw the [personal support worker] leaning over my mom … but then I heard words that just crushed me,” she said, close to tears.
“‘Why is it taking you so long to die?'” she said the worker said.
In another video, Pepin said a worker looked directly into the camera and said “watch, bitch.”
In total, Pepin caught three instances of abuse on camera. When she reported them to the city, the workers were fired and another worker was put on notice.
“Trust is broken,” Pepin said.
“It’s my word against [their] word, but with the camera and pictures you have your witness with you.”
Mayor ‘outraged’ by video
This was the sixth serious allegation of abuse against a city-run care home since 2015.
Mayor Jim Watson found out about the video on Wednesday, after city staff were alerted to the abuse allegation.
He said he has not seen the video but was provided a transcript by his staff.
“I was sickened to see someone in their golden years, their dying days, being treated so disrespectfully and bullied and threatened by someone who was put in a position of trust,” Watson said.
The mayor said he was outraged by the abuse in the video, but maintained the city’s long term care homes are “very well run.”
The city has ordered a third-party independent investigation of the city’s four homes. The recommendations from that investigation will be made public.