Nepean, Rideau and Osgoode Community Resource Centre Betrays Elderly Woman

What could be a clearer cry for help than an ill woman’s shakily written note to her son? “Dad abuses me” it reads, and the words are underscored as if the writer feels that they require extra emphasis. But it is not the elderly woman’s son that fails to take her call for help seriously, but the very people who are tasked with preventing social abuses: Ottawa social services employees.

Refusing to face facts

The Nepean, Rideau & Osgoode Community Resource Centre was approached by the woman’s son after a cursory police finding that no abuse was being perpetrated. The frail woman’s husband has a history of family violence after an incident in which he attacked her son with a knife, inflicting a severe wound, but the social worker entrusted with the case chose to overlook the woman’s note, the husband’s history of domestic violence, and her son’s first-hand testimony.

Evidence of neglect Shocking images showing a neatly-groomed and relatively mobile elderly lady being transformed into a fully disabled and poorly cared for invalid in just a few weeks after her son, who also acted as caregiver, was barred from seeing her failed to convince social workers as to the grave nature of the case with which they were entrusted. After arranging a single meeting between mother and son, the Centre indicated that no additional interventions would be initiated.

Who will defend women and the elderly?

We are left wondering just who defends the rights of women, the elderly and the disabled in situations of abuse. Should a woman’s desperate cry for help be ignored simply because she is elderly and disabled? Should her condition be allowed to deteriorate under circumstances of obvious neglect? The answer is clearly ‘no’, but it seems that social services are ill-equipped to deal with abuse and are reluctant to intervene, leaving us with questions rather than answers in the fight against these social ills.

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