W5 investigates: PSWs who victimize those in their care, and who are at risk themselves
Published Saturday, February 24, 2018 7:00AM EST
Frances Economou never expected her father’s life to end the way it did. George, a hard-working Greek immigrant to Canada, was diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage at age 67, that left him mentally impaired and unable to care for himself.
“He didn’t know how to eat, didn’t know how to go to the bathroom.” Frances says.
She wanted to look after him at home, away from a long-term care facility, but Frances knew she needed help. She hired a personal support worker, or PSW, through a government funded agency, to bathe and attend to George’s personal needs.
Frances had joined the ranks of those keeping aging and ailing parents at home, approximately one in six Canadians, over the age of 65.
It’s a move being encouraged by the federal government, which has committed $6 billion over the next 10 years to homecare.
In principle, a good idea. Their home was a safe place, Frances believed. How wrong she was.
Frances was horrified when her father indicated he had been sexually abused by the caregiver she had hired to look after him.
“He turned away and was just nodding yes, and made the gesture that he was inappropriately touched, down there.”
The Economous called police and learned through Detective Roger Caracciolo of the Toronto Police Service that the caregiver, Danilo Alcala, was already being investigated for sexually assaulting another senior. And other families had come forward with their concerns.
Danilo Alcala pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of sexual exploitation of a person with a disability in a case involving a 95 year old veteran he was looking after. He received a sentence of 23 months in jail and was released after 17 months. He is prohibited from working in homecare for two years. After that it will be up to agencies to do a criminal background check.
Frances has this message for her father’s former caregiver: “Shame on you. These are frail men.”
As for George Economou, Det. Caracciolo says, “He gave the interview and that’s the last time. He stopped talking. He didn’t talk any more after and died shortly thereafter.”
W5 tried to find out how many seniors are assaulted in their homes by care workers. Ontario’s long-term care act requires facilities to report incidents to the province and to police. But at home it’s up to the families to take action and not all do. It’s also up to agencies to do background checks on the PSWs they are sending to look after innocent seniors. It doesn’t always happen.
There are ways to protect loved ones in their homes. Follow the link and listen to Detective Caracciolo’s advice.
W5's documentary 'Personal Abuse' airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on CTV