Who speaks for our most vul­ner­a­ble? Com­mu­nity cal­en­dar

The Compass - - Editorial - Pat Cullen So­cial Af­fairs Pat Cullen is a jour­nal­ist who lives in Car­bon­ear. She can be reached at 596-1505 or cullen.pat1@gmail.com.

When I be­gan writ­ing this col­umn two years ago, I wanted it to be a voice for the voice­less — a wor­thy, if not overly am­bi­tious goal.

There are many is­sues to which I am drawn, but the one I find most trou­bling of late is the soon-to-be-es­tab­lished po­si­tion of se­niors’ ad­vo­cate. I do not in­tend to ex­pound on it as I did in my last col­umn, but I am still trou­bled by what that ad­vo­cate can­not do.

Who speaks for the most vul­ner­a­ble, I won­der? Who speaks for the in­firm who are awak­ened at 4 a.m. to be washed and then placed in wheel­chairs for the rest of the day be­cause there are staff short­ages in their in­sti­tu­tions?

Who speaks for those who never have a visitor or none that are of any use to them? They are re­ly­ing on that ad­vo­cate and will that ad­vo­cate be there for them? I doubt it. Be­cause that ad­vo­cate has no man­date to in­ves­ti­gate the fear-filled com­plaint that an in­di­vid­ual may whis­per in his or her ear.

In two sep­a­rate emails from the Depart­ment of Chil­dren, Se­niors and So­cial De­vel­op­ment, I am told the ad­vo­cate will ad­dress sys­temic is­sues, the broader is­sues faced by our el­derly such as “… ac­ces­si­ble trans­porta­tion.” In­di­vid­ual com­plaints will be passed along to the Of­fice of the Cit­i­zens’ Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

If the se­niors’ ad­vo­cate ac­tu­ally in­ves­ti­gated the in­di­vid­ual com­plaints of se­niors, it would only du­pli­cate the work of that of­fice, I am told. And what I am told is mere balder­dash. It is not du­pli­ca­tion to give the se­niors’ ad­vo­cate the power to in­ves­ti­gate the in­di­vid­ual com­plaints of se­niors, or those re­ceiv­ing their ser­vices, it is just com­mon sense.

That per­son should be there for them and them alone. The Of­fice of the Child and Youth Ad­vo­cate can in­ves­ti­gate on be­half of chil­dren, so why can’t the Of­fice of the Se­niors’ Ad­vo­cate do the same for a group that is ev­ery bit as help­less? Read­ing

Bay Roberts breakfast

A breakfast at the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion in Bay Roberts.

Spe­cial ap­pre­ci­a­tion open mic for Bill Luff­man

This is an open mic ap­pre­ci­a­tion day to hon­our our very own Singing Cob­bler Bill Luff­man for all his vol­un­teer ser­vices through­out our com­mu­ni­ties. This will be held at the Knights of Colum­bus in Har­bour Grace. Pre­sen­ta­tions will start at 7 p.m. if any­one would like to come along and made a pre­sen­ta­tion. For more in­for­ma­tion call Jack Kent at 596-7342.

Car­bon­ear Le­gion gen­eral meet­ing

through Hansard, when the po­si­tion was cre­ated last De­cem­ber, I find that Sherry Gam­bin-Walsh, the min­is­ter for se­niors, never pro­vided a solid an­swer to that ques­tion.

I think of my own mother, an el­derly in­valid now de­ceased, who once told me a home-care worker was han­dling her too roughly. I com­plained and the worker was re­placed. There was no fool­ish divi­sion of re­spon­si­bil­ity, which would have in­creased the agony of this suf­fer­ing wo­man. There was only speedy res­o­lu­tion.

What would have been the re­sponse if she had been in a nurs­ing-home and had moaned, whim­pered and whis­pered to that se­niors’ ad­vo­cate? I don’t know. But I doubt her prob­lem would have been solved as quickly, if at all.

I am also told in depart­ment emails that the Of­fice of the Se­niors’ Ad­vo­cate in this prov­ince will be mod­elled on that of Bri­tish Columbia, an of­fice “… op­er­at­ing very ef­fi­ciently and suc­cess­fully,” de­spite the ad­vo­cate hav­ing no in­ves­tiga­tive pow­ers.

I am left to won­der why we must cre­ate an of­fice mod­elled on some­body else’s. Dwight Ball wasn’t look­ing to Bri­tish Columbia when he was elec­tion­eer­ing. He promised our se­niors an ad­vo­cate who would in­ves­ti­gate To all Mem­bers of the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion Car­bon­ear, there will be a gen­eral meet­ing. For more info call 596-3691.

Cel­e­bra­tion of Pete Samp­son

At the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion in Car­bon­ear, an event hon­our­ing Pete Samp­son’s 50 years of bar­ber­ing in the com­mu­nity. Event will fea­ture a slideshow of Pete’s art and a spe­cial cake, plus an open mic. Open to the pub­lic.

Come Home Year New Per­li­can

in­di­vid­ual com­plaints, so he must have thought there was a need for it. But it was a prom­ise bro­ken.

I also don’t be­lieve the depart­ment when it tells me se­niors don’t want their ad­vo­cate to con­duct in­di­vid­ual in­ves­ti­ga­tions be­cause that would only du­pli­cate the role of the Cit­i­zens’ Rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

“Stake­hold­ers and se­niors were very clear that the Of­fice of the Se­niors’ Ad­vo­cate must not du­pli­cate ex­ist­ing ser­vices or man­dates. Presently in NL, the Of­fice of the Cit­i­zens’ Rep­re­sen­ta­tive ac­cepts com­plaints from in­di­vid­ual adults of all ages in­clud­ing se­niors,” one email reads in part.

That an­swer is just too pat. If our se­niors re­ally feel that way, I won­der how the ad­vo­cate’s po­si­tion was pre­sented to them. I think of the se­niors who can’t af­ford food, de­cent ac­com­mo­da­tion and those liv­ing in mis­ery be­cause they don’t have the money to get their teeth fixed and I won­der if they are re­ally sat­is­fied that the ad­vo­cate cre­ated just for them will not be per­mit­ted to ad­dress a com­plaint by one of them.

I never see a change in their cir­cum­stances, even though their plight is well chron­i­cled and I won­der where the Cit­i­zens’ Rep­re­sen­ta­tive fits in here. We should re­ally make the right of our el­derly to live with dig­nity one of th­ese sys­temic is­sues which the Of­fice of the Se­niors’ Ad­vo­cate will be able to ad­dress.

I some­times won­der what this gov­ern­ment re­ally thinks of our se­niors. The Of­fice of the Child and Youth Ad­vo­cate has a bud­get of $1,398,900 for 201718 while the Of­fice of the Se­niors’ Ad­vo­cate has to work with $500,000 for the same pe­riod. That is a mere sop.

But the real tragedy here is not about money. It is in deny­ing the per­son who will oc­cupy this po­si­tion the right to do the job prop­erly.

“The Of­fice of the Child and Youth Ad­vo­cate can in­ves­ti­gate on be­half of chil­dren, so why can’t the Of­fice of the Se­niors’ Ad­vo­cate do the same for a group that is ev­ery bit as help­less?”

Cel­e­brat­ing Come Home Year in New Per­li­can. For more de­tails con­tact the Town of New Per­li­can at 583 2500.

Old Per­li­can Cel­e­bra­tions

A week of events and ac­tiv­i­ties. Visit www.towno­fold­per­li­can.ca or the Face­book page for the events sched­ule.

Car­bon­ear Le­gion chase the ace

At the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion, Car­bon­ear, ev­ery Satur­day, 11 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. with the draw tak­ing place at 9 p.m. For info call 596-3691.

New Hope Al-ANON

Meets ev­ery Tues­day 7:30 p.m. at the U-Turn Ad­dic­tions Cen­tre in Car­bon­ear, at 46 Pow­ell Drive. A 12-step re­cov­ery pro­gram for rel­a­tives and friends of alcoholics.

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