We have to do bet­ter for the vul­ner­a­ble

Valley Journal Advertiser - - OPINION - Wendy El­liott

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.

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