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Kelly Lamrock is New Brunswick's child, youth and seniors' advocate. Image: Submitted

Seniors advocate gives update on ‘He Deserved Better’

By News Jul 16, 2023 | 5:54 PM

The Department of Social Development has fully implemented two of 13 recommendations made after the death of a 91-year-old nursing home resident in Grand Falls.

New Brunswick Seniors Advocate Kelly Lamrock has been keeping track and has released a progress update since the report “He Deserved Better” was released by his office in early 2022.

“No one has argued that what happened to this gentleman and his loved ones is acceptable. Active participation by the Department of Social Development has shown determined progress related to meaningful improvements in training, standards, and investigation protocols,” said Lamrock.

Other recommendations have been partially implemented and two alternative solutions were offered by the province.

The man died after an assault with another nursing home resident. Both had dementia.

“There has been a reticence on behalf of the Department of Social Development to act that is inconsistent with the public oversight we owe vulnerable seniors in some areas. A deference to the private nature of nursing homes has put seniors at risk, and in many cases this deference has created a chilling effect on reporting negative interactions for fear of retaliation,” noted Lamrock.

“To be responsible for the care of New Brunswick’s seniors is a public trust; even if government uses private operators to provide the service, the trust is still a public one. The trivia over who owns the building and who signs the paycheques does not in any way alter this trust.

“Child care facilities are rigorously regulated and inspected. Independent school districts answer to the Minister of Education. Professions that involve a public trust and a power imbalance – doctors, lawyers, psychologists, massage therapists – are all subject to robust statutory and regulatory oversight. Private long-term care facilities should be no different,” Lamrock said.

Lamrock has urged the Department of Social Development to continue to collaborate with the Office of the Seniors Advocate to increase the regulatory accountability and protections afforded to vulnerable seniors in long-term care facilities in New Brunswick.

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