24. Abuse and Harassment

Abuse is any unwarranted or inappropriate behavior. It may include:

  • Verbal Abuse – swearing, shouting, mimicking, taunting, or any form of speech with the intent to annoy or cause discomfort. Threats, insults, name-calling or making cultural or racial slurs. Belittling, demeaning or degrading language.
  • Physical Abuse – any use of physical force by anyone other than a resident (unless it is directed at another resident) that causes injury or pain. Slapping, hitting, kicking, punching, shoving, or beating. This includes unnecessary rough handling, pushing down into chairs or onto toilets, pushing or pulling along when walking, and the unauthorized or unnecessary use of physical restraints or forcible confinement.
  • Physical Neglect – failure to give proper nourishment and fluids, failure change incontinent residents, not allowing participation in activities, isolation, and failure to attend to grooming need or treatments. Gross lack of supervision.
  • Sexual Abuse – Sexual harassment, fondling or touching with sexual intent, no consent or where there is consent but the resident is deemed incapable to provide informed consent, sexual innuendo, exposure of sexually explicit materials, disrespecting a resident’s personal privacy.
  • Emotional Abuse – insulting, derogatory, intimidating or humiliating behavior. Any actions that include ignoring, shunning/excluding, or anything that causes alarm or fear. Excessive demands upon which a resident cannot meet.
  • Financial Abuse – any misappropriation or misuse of a resident’s property or money; stealing. The use of a resident’s labor for an employee’s personal gain, blackmailing or coercing resident into committing an illegal act. Using POA or SDM or a family relationship in a manner that is detrimental to the resident or the resident’s care and/or personal well-being.
  • Exploitation – Using the property or person, image, voice or a resident for personal, commercial or other purposes.

Other examples of abuse include:

  • Failure to report abusive behavior
  • Borrowing or accepting money from residents
  • Damaging or withholding belongings
  • Withholding care or medication for an inappropriate purpose/punishment

Harassment includes the public or private demeaning of an individual by any other person in such a way as to lower the individual’s sense of personal worth or relative standing in the workplace. It is improper behavior that is directed at or is offensive to an individual. It is based on personal characteristics including race, religion, sex, skin color, sexual orientation, physical challenge, mannerisms, or other behaviors. It may be of particular concern where an authority relationship exists.

Sexual Harassment includes behavior that has a sexual purpose or is of a sexual nature including but not limited to touching, leering, sexual remarks or jokes, display of sexually offensive materials, unwelcome flirtations, advances or propositions.


  1. Make sure the resident is protected / safe.
  2. Any and all instances of abuse or suspected abuse must be reported to the RN, Director of Care (DOC) or any member of senior management. The information required would be the names of the alleged victim(s) and offender(s), the nature of the incident (date, time, location), and possible witnesses.  The person who first became aware of the alleged abuse or neglect is to remain with the person completing the report to ensure accuracy.
  3. The RN/Charge Nurse is to provide emergency care if needed.
  4. The RN/Charge Nurse notifies the family and DOC within 12 hours of becoming aware of the incident.
  5. Complete necessary documentation in Point Click Care system or other methods of charting.
  6. The alleged perpetrator(s) shall not have unnecessary or unsupervised contact with the alleged victim, and there is no possibility of the alleged perpetrator(s) committing similar offenses.
  7. The DOC will then investigate the incident thoroughly and inform the Administrator. A written account is completed. The investigation will include:
    a. Interviewing the complainant
    b. Interviewing the alleged offender
    c. Interviewing whiteness
    d. Documenting the situation accurately and completely – including reports to personnel files
    e. Recommendations to the appropriate authority
    f. Reporting of recommendations to the complainant and the person named in the complaint
    g. Involvement of union representation if applicable
    h. Sharing of recommendations with and development of action plan by the Administrator where the matter is not resolved at a lower level
  8. The DOC speaks to the family to answer questions.

The DOC meets with the staff member involved to discuss finds of the investigation. All reports to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) are filled out and sent to the Ministry within the required timelines.

NOTE: It is a requirement to report any incidents to the GAIA CARE office within 12 hours of the occurrence. We answer emergency calls 24/7.