Case Studies

Study #1

Senior lady aged 70 who formerly worked in the health care field. She is divorced and has 1 adult child who has medical issues.

The landlord contacted Sarnia Fire with concerns about the residence. Community Support Worker attended with Sarnia Fire to assess. The clutter from the tenant’s unit was beginning to spill to outside areas which was affecting nearby tenants.

Numerous health and safety issues were identified:

  • No access to exits
  • Heating with space heaters
  • High amount of flammables
  • Expired food throughout home; items in fridge decomposing and considered a bio-hazard
  • High fall risk
  • Danger to emergency personnel in the event of fire
  • Difficult to gain access to the tenant in the event of a medical emergency

The tenant was not eligible for any funding assistance as her pensions exceeded the allowable limits.

The Community Support Worker, Sarnia Fire and the Property Manager to encouraged tenant to move forward with clean up. She was resistant to assistance but was advised that if she failed to comply she was at risk of losing her housing.

The Community Support Worker connected the tenant to cleaning services and worked with her on sorting items/cleaning out apartment. The tenant was involved in the clean up and making decisions about her belongings.

During the process, over $3000.00 was found in uncashed cheques, traveller’s cheques, gift cards, loose change/money.

The clean up took place over several months as the tenant was only willing to pay a minimum amount monthly for the clean up.

After the clean, the tenant was able to remain safely in her home. She has since reconnected with family who have assisted her with ongoing cleaning.

Study #2

This senior man, aged 72, was residing in a home in a rural area. He had resided there for many years and a new landlord recently purchased the property. Upon purchase, the new landlord agreed to allow the tenant to live out his remaining years in the home. The landlord was unfamiliar with the rights and responsibilities of being a landlord and had never been inside the house.

The senior tenant had multiple medical issues and his health was deteriorating. He had been heating the home with wood but has had increasing difficulties getting down to the basement where the wood stove was located due to mobility issues.

A number of issues were identified:

  • Tenant was using gas stove to heat the home (all 4 burners were on as well as the oven)
  • Wood stove was not installed according to regulations and there were concerns about fire
  • Tenant previously had a chimney fire. The chimney has not been cleaned since the fire
  • No working smoke alarms
  • Electrical wiring hung everywhere. The tenant advised that he had completed the electrical work himself
  • Concerns that the tenant was unable to understand the risks of living in this manner
  • Expired food in fridge/cupboards
  • Tenant had a dog that appeared to be in distress

The Client Intervention and Assistance Worker from Lambton Elderly Outreach received a referral for the tenant and requested that the Community Support Worker attend the home with her.

Sarnia Lambton Humane Society was contacted to assess the dog. The dog was very ill and the tenant voluntarily surrendered the animal for medical care.

OPP and Fire Department were contacted.

The Fire Department determined the house to be an immediate threat to life and OPP assisted in bringing the tenant to the hospital for assessment. An Order was placed on the home as it had been deemed unsafe for habitation.

Education and information were provided to the landlord about concerns with the home and some of his responsibilities as a landlord.

The Client Intervention and Assistance Workerconnected with family friends of the tenant who were able to secure housing in another home in an area close to where the tenant had been residing.

Supports were put in place to assist with obtaining some furniture for his new home. Lambton Elderly Outreach was able to assist with home cleaning and Bluewater Health connected the tenant to supports for his medical needs.

Study #3

This situation involved 2 houses and a male (82) and female (76) senior tenant.

The male tenant rented his home. The house was ramshackle and in need of major repairs. The landlord had been trying unsuccessfully to get him to move out as she was not willing to invest in needed repairs.

The female tenant owned her home nearby (pictures are of this home). Her home was heated by a wood stove. Due to their ages/medical issues, they had difficulty managing heating with the wood stove. She is diabetic with ongoing medical concerns.

The couple moved back and forth between the homes. Due to the severe cold, they had been staying at the male tenant’s home. At the time the Community Support Worker became involved, they had blocked off the kitchen/bedroom and bathroom areas and used the cook stove to heat the area as the furnace no longer worked and there was no other source of heat.

The Community Support Worker notified the Fire Department and sought permission to involve the Property Standards Department who attended to assess the home. The carbon monoxide levels were well above the amount deemed to be safe. It was determined there was an immediate threat to life and the tenants were advised they needed to leave the home. An Order was issued due to the threat to life. There were additional issues identified in the Order that deemed the home unsafe for habitation.

The couple chose to return to her house. All professionals attended this home to ensure safety of the tenants. Although there were several concerns, they were allowed to remain in this home. There was excessive clutter and filth, rodent infestations, lack of plumbing and a working furnace (heated with a wood stove) and electrical concerns. While concerning, none of these issues posed an immediate threat to life which is why they were allowed to remain in the home.

An Order was issued by Property Standards for the couple to have these issues addressed within 2 weeks.

2 weeks later the Community Support Worker and Property Standards returned to assess the situation.

Both tenants appeared unable to understand the consequences of living in their current situation. They had been unable to follow through with direction to seek assistance with the home. They appeared to lack the capacity to understand why the repairs were necessary.

Police were contacted to assist in assessing the tenants. It was determined that the female tenant needed a medical assessment at hospital. Police contacted the family of the male tenant who advised they would look after him. The Community Support Worker attended hospital with police and the tenant who was subsequently admitted.

Both tenants are now being cared for in a long term care facility.