While researching "In the dark," W5 tried to ascertain the number of sexual assaults reported in Ontario’s nursing homes in a given year.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care reported 1,967 "suspected or actual incidents of resident-to-resident abuse" in 2014. But the ministry does not break down that number according to various abuse categories (emotional, financial, physical, sexual and verbal).

“All incidents are triaged based on the individual circumstances of the case,” a ministry spokesperson explained in an email. 

After learning that no provincial statistics are kept on sexual abuse in Ontario’s nursing homes, we decided to compile our own.

Using Ontario’s online inspection Reports on Long-Term Care Homes, we downloaded all the reports for the homes included on the website for 2014, the last full year available.  Of the 650 homes listed, 35 did not have any inspection reports available for 2014.

Six hundred and fifteen homes yielded 2,637 inspection reports. We converted all of them to searchable text and found some mention of “sex” in 45 homes. Upon further examination we discovered 103 reported incidents of sexual assault in 37 Ontario nursing homes. That number may be higher, because some reports do not divulge the precise number of incidents.

The reports also show a varied reporting culture on the parts of nursing homes and ministry inspectors. Some of the findings that stood outinclude:

  • Six incidents of sexual abuse were not reported to the police at all by a home in Stirling;
  • Five incidents of sexual abuse were committed by a resident in a Lindsay home over the course of two months; notes for the resident indicated that a mental health assessment was required, when one had already been completed that had clear recommendations on managing the behaviours of the abuser;
  • A resident in a Cobourg home had a history of “sexually inappropriate” behaviour, but it wasn’t until the eleventh incident that the resident’s plan of care was updated to include 1:1 monitoring and a psychiatric assessment was ordered;
  • A resident in a Sault Ste. Marie facility, who had a history of licking, kissing and sucking other residents’ hands and faces, was supposed to be supervised after an incident of sexual abuse; instead he was left unsupervised and this led to another incident of sexual abuse;
  • At a home in Bobcaygeon, 10 vulnerable and/or cognitively impaired residents were recipients of sexual abuse committed by 2 residents over a three month period; only 4 of these incidents were reported to police.

Under Ontario regulations, nursing homes are required to notify the police whenever an incident of suspected sexual abuse is reported. Reports for only 12 of these 37 homes mention police at all, most often in the context of failing to inform police in a timely manner.

To see the report for each incident, click on the 'Report Date'