Videos posted on a TikTok account associated with the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association (OPSWA) appear to show a personal support worker mocking long-term care residents, angering families and advocates who are now demanding an apology.
The videos were posted by TikTok user @PSWChronicles, who has nearly 30,000 followers on the platform. In one of the videos, a PSW is seen eating cake with a caption that reads: "My resident called asking me where her three friends ran off to. The ones at the end of her bed. So now I'm delaying rounds by this slice of cake. Pray for me haha."
The account is now private after receiving backlash when the videos were widely shared on other social media platforms.
In a statement to CP24, OPSWA said they condemn any actions that seek to undermine vulnerable communities.
"The OPSWA does not condone any messaging or actions that in any way downplay the severity of dementia or any vulnerable person. It is the duty of personal support workers to support those in their care and to continue to work and uplift this community. The OPSWA will continue to work to achieve the highest standards in front-line care," the statement read.
Long-term care advocate Dr. Vivian Stamatopoulos said the association needs to apologize for the 'inflammatory' posts. She noted that she first learned about the posts Wednesday evening after being alerted by concerned PSWs.
Stamatopoulos called the posts "dehumanizing, derogatory, and ageist."
"To see this coming from an organization that is purported to represent PSWs is doing this profession a wild disservice. And I don't think this is how the vast majority of PSWs feel," Stamatopoulos said.
"I think this is a problem with the executive and they really need to look inwards. And frankly, if I were an OPSWA member right now, I'd be calling for a vote of non-confidence. I'd be trying to get a new executive if they're even granted the ability to do that."
Stamatopoulos posted the videos on her social media account to raise the alarm about the situation. She said the fact that this type of content is affiliated with OPSWA is 'wildly problematic.'
"I don't think people understand that, and they need to, dementia is a highly stigmatized illness," she said.
"This kind of discourse, I cannot underscore how damaging this is. To not only increasing the stigmatization around dementia and Alzheimer's, but furthermore, this kind of dehumanizing discourse can in itself lead to violence against this population."
Dr. Mary Fernando, whose father had dementia, said it is worrying to see the videos.
"One day, it will be all of us. Even though we feel like we're competent now, we could be that little old person in a bed being made fun of, not having the kindness we deserve," she said.
"I don't think they should be PSWs, quite frankly."
Fernando said they need to think about the families and, most importantly, about the person they are making fun of.
"We need to remember that not just for the families, but for the person who looks completely out of it that they are there at times," she said.