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Toronto family sues long-term care home over ‘horrific’ bed sores, alleged neglect of father

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Ontario family sues LTC home over alleged neglect of late father
WATCH ABOVE: An Ontario family is suing a long-term care home over the alleged neglect of their father, claiming he was left to suffer with horrific bed sores on several parts of his body before dying in hospital. Caryn Lieberman reports – May 18, 2023

Two months after their father was moved into a long-term care home, a Toronto family claims he died as a result of negligence by staff at the facility after allegedly having been left to suffer with horrific bed sores.

“The pain and suffering he went through is awful,” said Susan Dick, one of Bryan Dick’s four children.

“The injuries dad sustained to his body were horrific.”

Bryan Dick was a retired caretaker with the Toronto District School Board. He had been living on his own, with help from his children and support staff after a fall in 2016 led to leg amputation a year later.

“We had PSW three one-hour visits a day, nurse visits twice a week. Eventually we moved a PSW into the house next door to Dad so that she could be close to look after him … So he was doing very well. He had a number of medical issues, but he was doing extremely well. The doctor used to come and do house calls and told us he had a good baseline,” recalled Bryan’s daughter, Diane Granato.

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When the pandemic set in, Bryan became lonely, said Granato, without regular visits from friends and neighbours.

“The four siblings sat down and talked about, you know, ‘Was this the right time to put dad in a long term care facility so that he could have that social interaction that he needed?’ Unfortunately, 63 days later, his health just declined so drastically,” she said.

Susan Dick recalled being alerted to bed sores on her father’s body by a nurse one day while on a routine visit with her dad.

“We asked for a family meeting so we got together and met with some of the staff from the long-term care facility and discussed some of these injuries … they were telling us that they were being treated and they were healing,” she said.

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Soon after, the family said they received a call from the Ina Grafton Gage Home indicating their father was unwell and suggesting they send him to hospital because “his toes were blue.”

Upon arriving in hospital, Dick watched as doctors removed the bandages on her father’s body.

“Then we saw the total devastation. It was really, really bad,” she said. There were black spots. His knee was completely black. It went down to his foot and his heel. His foot was black. It was just disgusting to look at.”

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She said the doctors told them their father had just a few hours to live.

“My brother immediately drove down from up north and Diane was in Florida, so she couldn’t make it. She didn’t get to see our dad before he passed. And my brother just missed him by five minutes,” she said.

The family is suing the Ina Grafton Gage Home.

The lawsuit claims, “As a result of the Defendants’ negligence, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty, Bryan suffered multiple severe wounds on his body that became necrotic. He also suffered gangrene and the home failed to properly manage his pain. Bryan endured pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of his last days of his life as a direct result of the Defendants’ negligence, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty to her, for which he is entitled to damages.”

In the statement of defence, lawyers for the home suggest Ina Grafton “acted in a reasonable, careful and competent manner in accordance with accepted industry standards.”

It also states that Bryan Dick was in poor health when he was admitted to the home and denies that the progression of his medical conditions and/or his death were a result of negligence.

Speaking generally, long-term care advocate Vivian Stamatopoulos called pressure wounds ‘preventable’, pointing to a lack of staffing in some long-term care homes and inadequate positioning and repositioning of residents who are bedbound.

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“To see it get to this level and to know that this this poor man died in this manner is so traumatic,” she said, adding “This is the one of the worst ways you can die. And I can’t even imagine how painful and upsetting and traumatic this is.

Following a complaint by the family, the Ministry of Long-Term Care investigated and determined “the licensee has failed to ensure that resident #002 was not neglected by the licensee or staff.”

“The ministry actually fined the home .. It’s a slap on the wrist, but it’s a signal,” said the family’s lawyer Daniel Fisher.

“They don’t do that much. I very rarely see it. And the fact that they did it here is really a sign that even the Ministry was somewhat taken aback at what they saw and they felt the need to levy a financial penalty to try to send a message to the home.”

Fisher said the lawsuit is ultimately about accountability and justice for Bryan.

“They want change. They don’t want this to happen again … the idea is that through these lawsuits and through enough of these lawsuits, it’ll create the pressure on these homes to change, hire more staff, have better protocols to review the treatment that is being provided, and so that these sorts of situations don’t happen again because they happen far too often,” he said.

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The family hopes by speaking out and taking legal action against the long-term care home, others might be spared the pain and suffering.

“We miss our dad terribly … We don’t want to see anybody ever have to go through that again.”

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