Our Thoughts

Senior Care Changes from the Wettlaufer Tragedy

Posted on August 23, 2017 by Continyou Care


For anyone who missed it, earlier this year a tragic act of misconduct was performed by a former Ontario nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer. Wettlaufer recently pleads guilty to 8 charges of killing senior citizens in her care. You can watch her full confessional here.


For obvious reasons, this case has been very concerning to our team and those within the retirement and long-term care industry. There have been many rumours of misconduct in the past, but nothing so extreme! This raises a number of concerns for not only the safety of our staff and providers but the residents’ needs being met with their well-being in mind.


In Wettlaufer’s recent plead, she mentioned that one of her patients, on the evening of their passing had “asked to be put in the death bed”. Wettlaufer insists that this is what the patient asked for and after discussing the matter with another nurse, it was decided that if this is what the patient wanted, they would comply with their wishes. The issue here was that at no point did either nurse or anyone on staff look into the written wishes of the patient (which would have been made in a better frame of mind) or with any other higher authority on staff. Wettlaufer also explains in her confession that she “didn’t intend for the patient to die, I was just angry and wanted her to stop”.


On August 1, 2017, it was announced through a press release from the Government of Ontario that an official Public inquiry into the safety and security of the Long-Term Care Homes System has been accepted. This inquiry will include a variety of areas of investigation and questioning into basic health and safety needs being met as well as security and reasonable treatment.


This inquiry will be lead by recently appointed Honourable Justice Eileen Gillese who is an experienced judge of the Ontario Court of Appeal. Justice Gillese has been asked specifically to inquire into the circumstances and systematic issues which may have contributed to the assault and death of residents who were under the care of Elizabeth Wettlaufer. This inquiry will help sort out the answers to make sure a tragedy like this never happens again.


As part of the mandate, Justice Gillese will review accountability measures and how they align with the objective of Long-Term Care Facilities. Justice Gillese will also provide recommendations to improve the safety and well being of residents.


Part of our hope with this Inquiry is to also bring attention the lack of emphasis on Senior and Long-Term care patient nutrition. In a previous post we touched on the fact that currently, Ontario prisoners receive a significantly higher nutrition budget as well as receiving fresh fruit and produce as part of their daily diet.


We should expect a final report, including all recommendations by July 31st, 2019.

“I am honoured to have been chosen to head this very important Inquiry dealing with matters that affect the lives of all those in long-term care homes in Ontario. My team and I will do our utmost to determine how these events could occur and to make recommendations to that the tragedies of the past are not repeated in the future.” – Eileen Gillese, Commissioner of the Inquiry into the Safety and Security of the Long-Term Care Homes System.