'Something broke': Former care aide can't explain two years of neglect of Kamloops senior | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops News

'Something broke': Former care aide can't explain two years of neglect of Kamloops senior

- This story was originally published April 5, 2022.

A Kamloops senior is healthy and happy now, but at least two years of neglect left her emaciated and smelling of urine when she was taken to hospital in 2019.

Her caregiver, Dawn Brush, was contracted to host the senior for 13 years at a live-in arrangement. Now Brush is awaiting a sentence after pleading guilty for failing to provide the necessities of life.

"She looked like a concentration camp survivor when she was taken to hospital," Crown prosecutor Tim Livingston said of the senior.

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In Kamloops Supreme Court, the Crown is seeking an 18-month prison sentence for Brush, along with 12 to 18 months probation after her release. Livingston said the length of the sentence should reflect the court's will to denounce and deter future similar offences.

Meanwhile, Brush's lawyer, Cameron Matthee-Johnson, argued a one-year conditional sentence with "strict" house arrest should be sufficient. He added that oversight from Community Living B.C., the Crown agency contracting Brush to care for the senior, should have caught the neglect within the Sagebrush neighbourhood home during routine inspections.

The court heard that the senior's unsanitary living conditions, missed prescriptions and malnourished state were only discovered when her physician realized he had not seen her in two years.

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The physician called Brush to arrange an appointment, then discovered her emaciated state. The woman, who is disabled and non-verbal, weighed just 72 pounds when her doctor had the senior admitted to Royal Inland Hospital.

"When she was transported from her bed to a wheelchair, she looked to us like a little bird with no feathers -- all bones and no flesh," a victim impact statement from the senior's siblings says.

Livingston read the statement aloud to the court next to one of the victim's sisters, Lynne Bryson.

The family believed the senior, who was 68 when she was sent to the hospital, was well cared for and often received family photos from the Brush family and their sister.

Later, they would visit the senior in the hospital where she was often crying, confused and agitated.

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"We couldn't imagine what happened to turn her from a lively and sometimes feisty woman to this crying skeleton," the statement said.

Matthee-Johnson caught Livingston by surprise when he submitted that an additional psychiatric assessment be done with Brush as there are concerns of mental illness. He said the evidence showed that Brush cared for the woman for 11 years before "something broke," resulting in two years of uninhabitable conditions.

The Court ordered three psychological assessments, but psychologists decided one was not necessary. He argued, however, that a neuro-psychological assessment should be done to determine Brush's mental state, which could determine why there was a two-year lapse in care.

However, he later retracted that request.

"I'm very sorry for what I've done. I unfortunately don't recall a lot, but I'm willing to take whatever you think is appropriate for the pain and suffering I have caused," Brush said before breaking down in tears.

"I can't excuse what happened. I just wish I knew why it happened."

The victim, now 72, is living at a seniors care centre in Kamloops and has gained weight back. The family says she is now healthy and living a better life.

Donnegan plans to deliver a sentence for Brush before the end of April, after reviewing relevant case law and both lawyer's submissions.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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