"Rise in the presence of the aged, and show respect for the elderly."



Tapes may reveal senior’s treatment, family says”

The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, September 27, 2005, Page S2

VANCOUVER — A woman who says her 90-year-old father was mistreated in

a Kamloops nursing home is fighting in court today to show secretly

made tapes that recorded the last months of his life.

Judy Sellin hid a camera in a teddy bear in her father Stephen

Piccolo’s room at the Overlander extended care facility. The

camera, connected to a remote transmitter and eventually to a

VCR, recorded 240 hours of tape that Ms. Sellin says details the

undignified way her father was treated.

But the Interior Health Authority, which runs Overlander, where

Mr. Piccolo stayed for 13 months before his death last October,

obtained an interim injunction against showing the video, arguing

it was defamatory and violated employees’ privacy.

Now, Ms. Sellin is battling that injunction in a court case that

may settle a balance between those rights to privacy and the

ability of a family to monitor a member’s care.

“That was my father’s private room,” she said. .”It was his home

It’s his privacy that should be protected.

She and her son, Reece, put up a seven-minute documentary

spliced from the tapes on the website of their advocacy group,

Elderly Liberation Movement Society of British Columbia.

Within 48 hours, the courts ordered that tape off the Internet.

Although some U.S. websites have openly flouted the ban,

the Sellins and B.C. media can’t show the tapes.

In one tape, Mr. Piccolo asks repeatedly for a glass of milk,

according to court affidavits. When he gets one, an aide says,

“If I told you it was horse pee, would you believe me?” Further

in the same affidavit, Mr. Piccolo is described as trying to pull

a sheet over his legs for warmth, but he is ignored for nearly

two hours.

The video was defamatory, said the chief operating officer

of Interior Health, Al Martin.

“We reacted immediately with an internal review, a second internal

review, and then an external review,” he said in an interview.

“We take these things very seriously. Seniors are very

vulnerable individuals and it’s imperative they be properly cared for.”

Those reviews made small recommendations to improve care

at the Overlander facility, but cleared the health authority, he said.

The authority is pursuing the suit to keep the tapes from being

shown because it’s preserving its reputation, he said.

“We feel the tapes were inappropriately obtained, and we’re

suggesting there are some concerns regarding the credibility,” he said.

“We need to protect our organization’s credibility and reputation,

as well as our staff.”

Because of the court injunction, no one investigating the role

of Interior Health was able to see the tapes, he said.

But Mr. Martin said the investigators conducted interviews

that were effective substitutes, he said.

The video is also a powerful weapon for the Sellins’ advocacy

group, which is calling for a provincewide audit of seniors’

care facilities, said Ms. Sellin’s lawyer, John Drayton.

“They want attention to this concern about senior health care.

If this is going to get them more public interest, then they want to show it.”

The Sellins are prepared to blur the faces and modify the

voices of employees in the tapes to get the tapes to be seen, Mr. Drayton said.