Nurses “inundated with work”, and overflowing toilets

We continue with our posts from Stella as she struggles to protect her father Charlie who “lives”, as so many elderly people now do, in an “extended care wing” of a British Columbia hospital.
 

Stella Writes…

My father remains on the senior’s ward of a hospital here in BC, despite my efforts to get him out.  Yesterday I found him still without his bottom teeth.  Two weeks ago staff told me they were taken away because he has a canker sore in his mouth.  I couldn’t see the sore then and I couldn’t see any sore yesterday.  Apparently they are rinsing his mouth with salt water twice a day or at least that’s what I am told.

I went to look for a nurse to see if Dad could have his teeth back.

I waited 20 minutes for the new Nurse Leader to finish training someone on the computer, but apparently my timing wasn’t good.  She told me she was “inundated with work” and couldn’t help me.  I counted 12 health care workers standing around the front desk, most of them more than 60 feet from any actual patients.

His former Nurse Leader (more…)

Institutions ‘named and shamed’ for elder abuse – a last resort of ombudsman, media

Canadian banks and financial companies mistreat seniors and ignore laws, abetted by a negligent government

 

The growing epidemic of institutional elder abuse is not limited to nursing homes, hospitals and health authorities. The banking industry also appears to be mistreating and taking advantage of seniors. Banks?!  Yes, banks.

Most senior citizens are customers, many are long-time and very loyal customers of the banking institutions they patronize, and all are citizens of Canada. It is their hard earned money that has made Canadian banks what they are today. Yet, our elders are frequently being treated with callous disrespect.

We are concerned with the evidence that banks and financial institutions are imposing their own rules, over and above the law of the land, ignoring legal documents such as power of attorney papers drawn up by lawyers, and creating desperate circumstances for seniors.

Here are three stories that surfaced in the media recently, perhaps the tip of a very chilling iceberg.

  • Royal Bank (RBC) branch in Vancouver refused to cash the pension cheques of a 94-year-old disabled and housebound woman for seven months. This bank ignored the Power of Attorney granted by their customer to her daughter. The daughter tried in vain to persuade the bank to relent but they would not budge… until she called the media. Then, three bank staff suddenly found their feet and made a visit to the elderly woman’s house to confirm the power of attorney (something that was not necessary to do in the first place, but presumably was done so the bank could save face).

“I took the power of attorney papers in. They were photocopied and sent to the [RBC] head office in Toronto,” said (daughter Linda) Graham. “Those were turned down as well because they weren’t explicit enough.” CBC, Go Public

  • Staff at a Toronto Scotiabank branch reportedly refused to accept the power of attorney of a dying woman (featured in same CBC story, 2nd incident). The bank insisted that she, not her designated POA, come to the branch in person. When her family drove her to the bank branch, they asked staff to come out to the parking lot to meet with the 73-year-old woman who was weeks away from dying of cancer and unable to be transported anywhere easily. The family got a “flat-out refusal” from bank staff. Her family was forced to wheel the ailing woman, swollen with painful lymphoma, into the bank on a commode chair. All this, while the bank rejected the Power of Attorney document that had been properly executed by the woman’s lawyer. Scotiabank refused to comment, citing privacy – even though the woman was by then deceased.
  • And, in a rare move, an Ombudsman publicly ‘named and shamed’ W.H. Stuart & Associates, a mutual fund dealer, for refusing to abide by a ruling that the firm pay $41,066 to an 82-year-old couple for failing to inform them of the real, and risky, nature of their investment, and for the loss of their life savings due to the firm’s mismanagement.

Which ombudsman you may ask? One you may never have heard of, but which might, one day, save your bacon (and your nest egg) – the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments. “OBSI has taken several significant and extraordinary steps to resolve this and certain other complaints that could not be resolved before we’ve resorted to announcing a refusal to compensate.”

The OBSI is Canada’s national independent dispute resolution service for consumers and small businesses that have a complaint they can’t resolve with their banking services or investment firm. It operates as a free alternative to the prohibitively expensive legal system. Read more about the OBSI below.

The Canadian banks that once again posted record profits in the last fiscal quarter are the same banks that are treating senior citizens with breathtaking disrespect and utter disregard for the law.

So what is going on with banks? More importantly, why is it going on, and why is it being permitted by our governments and our elected representatives?

One of the missions of Seniors at Risk is to inform senior citizens and their loved ones of potential problems they may encounter at the hands of our elected officials, civil servants, and public agencies and authorities, as well as the legal system and (more…)

It’s a Wonderful Life (not available in Canada or the U.S.)

 

Now that the holiday season is well upon us, let’s raise a toast to Denmark. Yes, Denmark, the little country that could… and does treat its elderly citizens with compassion, love and respect.

The Danes even passed a law giving every nursing home resident the right to fresh air – every day! Remarkable. Yes the right to fresh air is actually enshrined in law, unlike so many elder rights “wall posters” which aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, like British Columbia’s much ballyhooed but hollow Residents Bill of Rights… the one that does not even mention the fundamental right of a person to not consent to (forced) treatment.

And let’s raise a glass to the feisty elderly women of France who, outraged at the prospect of “life” in a seniors’ residence, became real estate developers and built retirement homes for themselves in a brand-spanking new 6-story Paris apartment building – which they also run and operate themselves. Three cheers for the women of Baba Yaga’s House.

These good works are models of courage, cooperation and simple decency that we in Canada and the United States should be using as a beacon to guide us to a future where our elderly citizens can live their lives free of fear, free of abuse by doctors, nurses and aides, and free to live life where and how they wish.

Two documentaries recently aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in the fall of 2012, one about Denmark’s efforts and the other about the intrepid Parisian women. Kudos to the CBC for taking a leadership role in the Canadian media to portray possibilities beyond what our politicians seem to be able to envisage.

We wish each and every elderly citizen and their loved ones a very joyous holiday season, in whatever spirit you celebrate the coming light, whether it be pagan or Christian, Muslim, Jewish or Hindu. May you be nurtured by a profound reverence for life and nature.
 
The gift of love, of time spent together, of compassion, even of fresh air, these are some of the most precious gifts you can give an elderly person, especially one who is in a seniors’ residence. And, these pleasures are all free. Please give.
 
Now, a couple of gifts for you. Prepare to be inspired!

 

In Denmark, It’s their (wonderful) Life

November 14, 2012

CBC Sunday Edition Host Michael Enright’s introduction:  There’s a big old brick house on the west side of Copenhagen where 23 men and women live like a family. Seventy per cent of the family has dementia. They take Caribbean vacations together. The 98-year-old man on the second floor has (more…)

Jean Wilder case in court today

 

Despite the efforts of Jean Wilder’s family and friends, and a letter-writing campaign by the public earlier this year, this 61-year-old woman is still being held in an Interior Health Authority (IHA) hospital with no apparent justifiable reason or legal authority.

 

In February 2012 Jean Wilder was transferred from the Invermere & District Hospital’s acute care department to an extended care unit (ECU) to recover from complications following surgery a month earlier. When Jean and her family raised concerns about the care she was receiving at the ECU, hospital staff suddenly detained Jean against her will, banned her family and friends, and refused to allow Jean to see a lawyer. See previously published stories.

Now, nine months later, Jean Wilder is still being held without any due process. The IHA has not provided Jean Wilder’s family with any information about why, or under what legislation, she is being forcibly detained without her consent. The Interior Health Authority also appears to be making all health care decisions for Jean Wilder, even though they have no lawful right to do this.

Jean Wilder’s voice and rights to her own life and liberty, now long ignored, will likely be completely snuffed out this week.

On December 12, 2012, a court in New Westminster, B.C., 800 kilometres and a 9 hour drive from Invermere, BC, will take 5 minutes to hear the case to declare Jean Wilder legally incapable.

Why and how did this happen?  The short answer is that she became an unwilling victim of elder abuse by the Interior Health Authority and the Public Guardian and Trustee. After Jean Wilder’s family and friends raised concerns about Jean’s care, hospital staff reported them to the B.C. Public Guardian & Trustee’s office (the PGT). From that moment (more…)

Stella writes… they tell us to lie

 

Today, Seniors at Risk introduces a new series about one family’s journey through the health care system as they try to protect their elderly father from institutional elder abuse. Daughter Stella chronicles their story and her views of the Canadian health care system and its impact on her dad Charlie. Stella Writes will appear regularly on Seniors at Risk.

Stella writes

 
I live in British Columbia, Canada.  We have a government health care system administered province by province.  Some years back, our provincial government set up regional health authorities and new rules were put in place.  Since then, patients and their families have been playing ‘catch up’ as we struggle to learn what this all means.
 
I have an elderly father in a senior’s facility and our family has lost all control of him.  My dad Charlie has been diagnosed with dementia, been placed under Adult Guardianship and (more…)

Videos show nursing staff assaulting defenceless patients

U.S. prosecutes abuse by health care providers, Canada turns a blind eye

 

Shocking video flashed across Canada several weeks ago showing nursing staff forcibly injecting powerful antipsychotic drugs into the body of a bound and hooded, but calm, teenage girl, “without her consent and for no apparent reason,”  (Toronto Star).  By law, and by common sense, prescription drugs are to be administered only when there is a clinical indication that they will have a beneficial therapeutic effect.

Ashley Smith entered Canada’s youth health care/prison system at the age of 14 for the crime of throwing crab apples at a postman. After several years of “treatment”, much or most of it in solitary confinement, debilitated by forced prescription drugs, Ashley strangled herself while prison staff stood idly by, watching. A coroner’s inquest is underway.

We associate state beatings, torture, or injecting drugs into a person as punishment or threat, with the brutality of the Soviet Gulag, or the depravity of the U.S. military prison Abu Ghraib, or modern-day China’s organ harvesting from still-live prisoners. But this is Canada, this is today. We ought to be shocked, ashamed, and galvanized into acting.

What if young Ashley Smith had been an elderly woman in a Canadian nursing home or care facility instead of a jail?

There would likely be no video evidence recorded to reveal the brutal treatment by health care providers. Ashley Smith’s plight would have been hidden, her death unnoticed, unreported and unpunished.

Why? In Canada, mandatory video surveillance in prisons is designed to protect both inmates and staff.  However, elderly citizens in Canadian hospitals and nursing homes have no such protection. Instead, unlike the U.S. (see below), Canadian governments and courts vigorously prohibit video surveillance inside the hospital and nursing home rooms (more…)

Regulator of Physicians hides details of doctor misconduct

 

We used to trust our doctors. In fact at one time, doctors were so trusted, we gave them the right to regulate themselves through provincial Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons. Our courts defer to their judgment, and assume doctors automatically possess profound knowledge, impeccable skills and unassailable integrity.
 
But, Canadian doctors have squandered the public’s (admittedly naïve) trust. In Canada today, many people fear doctors and the health care system, and with increasingly good reasons.
 
Today, we bring you two chilling stories, one from Ontario and one from British Columbia, that demonstrate how doctors have lost our trust.

College of Physicians and Surgeons keeps secret the details of incompetence

October 22, 2012

An Ontario surgeon found guilty of professional misconduct and incompetence, including causing death, has been allowed to continue to see patients while details of his infractions are kept secret from the public.

The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons is resisting revealing the details about the 22 instances of misconduct and incompetence that they confirmed, stating:  “the disciplinary committee’s ‘rules of procedure’ allow (more…)

It’s “snowing” in BC – staff term for drugging of nursing home residents

So common is the inappropriate use of antipsychotic medications by nursing home staff in British Columbia that it now has a name – snowing.

SNOWING:  a colloquial term used by health care staff for sedating an individual so they are no longer intrusive or distracting in their behaviour or the sounds they make.

Source – B.C. nursing home staff, www.saobservernet/news/

On January 12, 2012 Jack Johnson of Salmon Arm, BC died at a nursing home run by B.C.’s Interior Health Authority. The Interior Health Authority is featured in other cases brought to our attention at Seniors at Risk.

Mr. Johnson’s family believes that the antipsychotic drug Seroquel (quetiapine) was responsible for the sudden onset of Mr. Johnson’s frightening and debilitating symptoms and that it was at least partly responsible for his death, as reported by the Salmon Arm Observer, July 11, 2012.

The family describes Mr. Johnson as “the most joyful man you could ever meet” until he was prescribed Seroquel, after which he became angry and agitated.

Instead of reducing or stopping the drug, the doctors and nursing home increased his dosage. Jack Johnson’s daughter Dina Loeb says “When he went in there, he was still walking, talking, dressing and feeding himself. Within 10 days, he wasn’t doing any of that.”

The first time Dina Loeb heard the term “snowing” a nursing home care aide told her ” ‘when they’re agitated, we give them more medication. Your dad peed in the corner so we snowed him.’ Dina says a nurse at the hospital confirmed the term and told her it is common practice.”

The family brought their concerns about the effect that Seroquel was having on Mr. Johnson to the nursing home and to B.C.’s Ministry of Health but they were given platitudes and misinformation.

“They said Dad was quite happy, moving around, scooting here and there, but in reality, he was stiff as a board, mouth gaping, eyes rolled back, not knowing anyone.” 

In a meeting with doctors, nurses and staff at the nursing home, the family specifically asked (more…)

Elder Abuse Awareness Day – June 15

ON THIS DAY WE REMEMBER AND HONOUR these nine people and all other seniors who have suffered, or are still suffering, abuse of their legal and human rights in British Columbia’s health care system, and elsewhere.

   

 

 

 

 

Please take a few minutes to learn about and to share their stories with other people.
 

 

DOLORES Brent, Trail, B.C.

 

GARY Davis, Langley, B.C.

 

ROLAND Hunter, Vancouver, B.C.

 

ERNA Luttmer, Vancouver, B.C.

 

ELDON Mooney, North Vancouver, B.C.

 

KATHLEEN Palamarek, Victoria, B.C.

 

HILDA Penner, Abbottsford, B.C.

 

STEPHEN Piccolo, Kamloops, B.C.

 

JEAN Wilder, Invermere, B.C.

 

 

  

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – http://www.inpea.net/weaad.html

 
_________________________________

Help STOP institutional elder abuse – write your elected representatives, voice your concerns online, let others know what’s happening, or… take whatever steps you think will help make a difference to protect seniors’ legal and human rights from abuse by Canadian health care institutions and public agencies.

The Coalition to Support SENIORS AT RISK

 

Wife wins court order to see husband of 33 years in B.C. hospital

 

Another story has been sent to Seniors at Risk that exposes inhumane and autocratic behaviour by health care facility staff towards seniors and their family members.

The situation in British Columbia health care facilities has become so dysfunctional that families, in times of great distress, are forced to resort to the B.C. Supreme Court to compel our publicly-funded health care providers and authorities to use common sense and display considerate behaviour.

Although this couple was successful in obtaining a court order against the health authority and the health care facility, few families can afford the extraordinary legal bills (usually $250 – $350 per hour) to hire lawyers for this purpose.

It begs the question – Are human rights and justice available only to the weathy and well-positioned in British Columbia today?

Story below.

Wife wins right to see husband in hospital

Judge grants unsupervised visits; VIHA calls it ‘a good outcome’

By Cindy E. Harnett, Times Colonist June 3, 2012

 
A Victoria woman has won the right to unsupervised visits with her husband of 33 years in Victoria General Hospital after Vancouver Island Health Authority imposed a ban restricting her to 20-minute conversations, over a speakerphone, twice weekly.
 
Retired cancer researcher Dr. Carol Haines, in her mid-60s, can now see her husband, Fred Oster, 67, a retired Royal Roads University professor, in hospital after the couple petitioned the courts.
 
On Friday, B.C. Supreme Court Judge Bob Johnston immediately granted daily, unsupervised visits to Haines from 1 p.m. until 4: 30 p.m. effective until June 11. VIHA and the petitioners will meet again Friday in an effort to reach a permanent agreement on visitation at the hospital.
 
Haines had been banned because of questions from VIHA about her psychiatric health, her impact on her husband’s health and the stress she placed on staff, the court heard. …
 
Oster suffered a severe traumatic brain injury in September 2011 that left him unable to live independently. Vancouver-based lawyer Joe Arvay, representing the couple, told the court Oster had been “involuntarily detained at Victoria General Hospital” since March 6. 
 
Restrictions on Haines’ visits have varied from daily, hourly supervised visits to two calls of 20 minutes twice weekly, over a speakerphone. The petitioners (more…)
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