Man fears par­tic­i­pat­ing in meet­ings on long-term care puts ‘loved ones at risk’

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - epayne@post­ ELIZABETH PAYNE

An Ottawa man who has spo­ken out about the poor qual­ity of med­i­cal care his mother re­ceived in a city-run home says he fears the city is putting up bar­ri­ers to par­tic­i­pa­tion in long-term care “en­gage­ment meet­ings” it has sched­uled for next week.

City of­fi­cials promised to hold town hall meet­ings ear­lier this sum­mer to talk about long-term care af­ter the prov­ince is­sued a rare or­der telling the city to im­prove safety and care at its homes.

The or­der came amid chronic non-com­pli­ance is­sues at three of the city’s four long-term care homes and sev­eral high pro­file in­ci­dents, in­clud­ing the abuse of a res­i­dent by a per­sonal sup­port worker.

In a let­ter to city of­fi­cials in charge of long-term care, Chris Bru­ton, whose mother is in longterm care, said he fears the city is cre­at­ing an “un­nec­es­sary and po­ten­tially in­tim­i­dat­ing bar­rier to par­tic­i­pa­tion” in the meet­ings.

“Res­i­dent’s fam­i­lies may rea­son­ably har­bour fear that speak­ing out may put their loved ones at risk. Re­gard­less of whether those con­cerns are jus­ti­fied, they surely ex­ist. If your in­sis­tence on pre-regis­tra­tion si­lences even one fam­ily, you will have un­der­mined your own process,” says the let­ter.

Bru­ton asked city of­fi­cials to re­move the re­quire­ment of name pre-regis­tra­tion for the meet­ings.

“The mere sug­ges­tion those at­tend­ing these meet­ings are ‘on a list’ is re­pul­sive.”

“I be­lieve res­i­dents and their fam­i­lies de­serve a venue in which they can share their con­cerns freely and with­out con­cern for back­lash.”

Numer­ous fam­ily mem­bers have told the Cit­i­zen in re­cent months that they will not go pub­lic with con­cerns about long-term care be­cause they fear reprisals against their loved ones.

One re­tired nurse whose mother is a res­i­dent of a city-run longterm care home said she was told she could no longer be in the room when her mother was be­ing cared for. She also said her mother was no longer taken to use the bath­room af­ter her com­plaint or given show­ers. The re­tired nurse’s com­plaints about poor hy­giene con­trol in a city-run nurs­ing home led to a pro­vin­cial or­der to im­prove con­di­tions.

The city’s en­gage­ment meet­ings, which be­gin next week on Sept. 20, are part of its strat­egy to hear from pa­tient’s fam­i­lies and talk to them about on­go­ing long-term care is­sues.

“The pur­pose of the con­sul­ta­tions is to in­form fam­i­lies, friends and vol­un­teers about the work that is un­der­way in re­sponse to re­cent events and to re­ceive their sug­ges­tions for con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment re­lated to care, safety and ser­vices,” said Jan­ice Burelle, the city’s gen­eral man­ager of com­mu­nity and so­cial ser­vices.

She added that fam­i­lies will “have an equal op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide their feed­back and share their com­ments about their loved one’s care in a pri­vate and con­fi­den­tial set­ting.”

Bru­ton said he’s con­cerned that man­age­ment pre­sen­ta­tions will eat up time needed for fam­i­lies to talk about their con­cerns and ask ques­tions. He also asked city of­fi­cials that man­age­ment and staff from long-term care homes not be at the meet­ings, so that fam­ily mem­bers are com­fort­able enough to speak up.

He also said the meet­ings should be open to the me­dia.

“The com­mit­ment made by the Mayor and Coun­cil­lor Diane Deans was ex­plic­itly for ‘town halls,’ not closed door meet­ings,” says his let­ter.

“I urge you to re­spect that prom­ise and join con­cerned stake­hold­ers in a fully open and can­did process.”

Burelle said the ses­sions are “in­tended for peo­ple who play a role in, and who are di­rectly im­pacted by, the care and well-be­ing of the res­i­dents.”

Burelle said the meet­ings are only open to res­i­dents, fam­i­lies, staff and vol­un­teers at city-run long-term care homes.

Res­i­dents and their fam­i­lies de­serve a venue in which they can share their con­cerns freely and with­out con­cern for back­lash.

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