|71 year old Chambers at Castleview Wychwood Towers|
Danae Chambers became a victim of the mental illness Dementia around the early 1990's and it appears she has been victimized yet again. Not of another mental illness, but by a man who was trusted as a staff of her nursing home to care for her.
71 year old Chambers was an incredible artist. She studied at Oxford, lived in France and displayed her art through oil paintings. As a resident of Castleview Wychwood Towers in Toronto (also ran by the City of Toronto) since 2006, Chambers depended on the staff to provide and protect her well-being. A male practical nurse, 46 year-old Leonid Kozlov is charged with sexual assault.
|Chambers in her earlier years|
This is a prime example of not just violence against women but violence against marginalized women. What is of importance here is that not all women fit into the category of white, middle aged, middle class, able bodied living in a developed world. When a woman's identity intersects with multiple social divisions, the outcome of their victimization is of a different experience than of a white woman, an able bodied woman, a rich woman... the "universal" woman.
It is evident here that an elderly woman suffering from a mental illness was abused based on her vulnerability by a man that carries more powers than those that come with his gender. He was able bodied, a professional (so to speak) with economic privileges, and he did not suffer from dementia.
The Toronto Star investigated abuse in nursing homes and the numbers are likely to induce vomitting to whomever reads them.
Dementia impacts behaviour, memory, judgement, language etc., and with all of these disadvantages due to the loss of brain function --- including Chambers' old age and confinement in a nursing home, Chambers' vulnerability was not protected. It was abused.
Castleview Wychwood Towers has some interesting points to their mission statement:
- We believe that we are guests in the resident's home, and the resident is the focus of all services.
- We believe in respecting the uniqueness of each individual, for their personal integrity, dignity and self-esteem, and their rights to personal privacy and confidentiality.
- We believe in providing a range of care and services to maximize each residents physical, social and emotional potential.
- We believe that each person should be encouraged to retain or regain independence.
Interestingly enough, some of you might say that one staff members' abusive behaviour shouldn't reflect on the entire nursing home's capability as caregivers.
You could be right. But in this specific case, you're not.
Would it help if I told you that nursing homes have a secrecy culture of keeping these abuses on the low? What about if I said that the incidents are mishandled by staff AND management and that these incidences were well known before they were reported. It took one nurse who caught the accused in the room with Chambers to speak out against this. She risked her job and scrutiny by her superiors in the nursing home. Often times, this doesn't happen.
Without investigations, these cases would have never made the front page of any paper.