Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario


Nurses say elder abuse must be brought out into the open

 TORONTO, June 13, 2011 – A growing number of Canadian seniors are rapidly becoming vulnerable to elder abuse.

As World Elder Abuse Awareness Day approaches, (June 15) the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) together with the Canadian Nurses Association is shining a spotlight on the problem in a bid to bring the issue out into the open.

According to Statistics Canada, seniors over the age of 65 represented 13 per cent of the population in 2009.  In that year, 7,900 incidences of elder abuse were reported, an increase of 14 per cent since 2004. Advocates for the elderly say such abuse can take various forms from physical and emotional to sexual, financial and neglect. 

RNAO launched a project by selecting 10 long-term care homes across Canada to take part.  The Prevention of Elder Abuse Centres of Excellence (PEACE) sites are located in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The goal of each site is to increase awareness and understanding among health-care providers of elder abuse and enhance their capacity to respond to situations of abuse. 

“This is a very difficult issue that we have to confront.  Abuse of any sort is wrong.  What’s especially troubling is that the victims themselves are sometimes afraid to speak out.  That’s why this project is so important.  We need to raise awareness so that everyone from members of the public to health-care workers know what  measures to take if they spot an instance of elder abuse and how to prevent it,” says Heather McConnell, a registered nurse with RNAO and one of the leads on the project.

McConnell adds residents in long-term care can be especially vulnerable because people in long-term care are older, frailer and have more complex needs.

“Nurses and other health-care professionals have an important front-line role to play in recognizing and reporting elder abuse.  We have a moral and ethical duty to protect the well-being of our patients and this new initiative is a very positive step in the right direction,” says Judith Shamian, President of the Canadian Nurses Association.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.

This project is funded by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program.
For more information about RNAO, visit our website at You can also check out our Facebook page at and follow us on Twitter at
To arrange an interview with a nurse in one of the cities involved in the project or for more information, please contact:

Marion Zych,
Director of Communications, RNAO
Cell: 647-406-5605 / Phone: 416-408-5605
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext. 209

Lisa Brazeau
Director, Communications and Member Outreach /
Directrice du service des communications et relations avec les membres
Canadian Nurses Association / Association des infirmières et infirmiers du Canada
50 Driveway, Ottawa, ON  K2P 1E2
613-237-2159 ext / poste 252
613-864-1371 cell