We have to do better for the vulnerable
police had to enter a home, which was locked from the outside, to essentially rescue the disabled male.
He was treated in hospital for two weeks and then sent to a nursing home elsewhere in the province. Today, according to a community member, while physically healthy, he is a changed man due to whatever trauma he endured. Conversations are no longer possible.
After the man’s father died and his mother entered a nursing home, his condition had changed. He appeared rarely in public, looked yellowish, lost significant weight and smelled of urine.
Alarms bells rang in the village. Numerous calls, I’m told, were made to adult protection. The RCMP was requested to undertake wellness checks, but the community were informed that he was OK.
Prior to his rescue there was no electricity or running water in the home. A court found the man to be an adult in need of protection from “neglect.”
I understand the ombudsman’s office was asked to review how the Department of Health and Wellness and Adult Protection Services handled the man’s case about four months after his relocation. Jurisdiction is now the issue that the courts will consider.
After all, the role of the ombudsman is to investigate complaints from the public about how well or beneficially government services are being delivered, in an effort to improve those services. Redacted records of what happened in Grand Pré
will not contribute to making a system that is supposed to protect the vulnerable any better.
The community member, who is a healthcare professional, that I spoke with wants to know what failed when there was strong reason to believe that neglect was occurring well before the ‘rescue.’ He told me that while attempting to be an advocate, “I tried everything but standing on my head spitting nickels.”
Ombudsman Bill Smith has indicated to the CBC that he doesn’t believe the Department of Health and Wellness should be allowed to hide behind privacy legislation. Our province certainly has issues with protecting those who cannot protect themselves.
After all, the Health and Wellness minister recently appointed an expert advisory panel to look into ways to improve the quality of long-term care for those in nursing homes and residential care facilities. That is a population of about 11,000 people. The move was prompted by the death of a woman in care as a result of badly-treated bed sores.
Back in February, an independent report warned the public that people with disabilities were being unjustly confined in a Nova Scotia psychiatric hospital. Some were confined as long as 15 years. Law professor Archie Kaiser, who teaches at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie, has said, “Nova Scotia should apologize for its failure.”
The findings of the 2006 review by Dorothy Griffiths and Dr. Chrissoula Stavrakaki only emerged during a human rights inquiry.
Not only can we do better, but we have to do better when it comes to our treatment of the vulnerable in our society. Nova Scotians cannot be satisfied with the status quo.