Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The extent to which refugee children have been conditioned by their environment is heartbreaking. We wanted permission to take this young girl’s photograph, so we asked if her mother was nearby. Her eyes filled with the most uncontrollable fear that I’ve ever seen in a child. ‘Why do you want my mother?’ she asked.

why do you want my mother?
terror and love
how to avoid disaster?
the child has learned to fear
and how does one return
to innocence?
why do you want my mother?

The extent to which refugee children have been conditioned by their environment is heartbreaking. We wanted permission to take this young girl’s photograph, so we asked if her mother was nearby. Her eyes filled with the most uncontrollable fear that I’ve ever seen in a child. ‘Why do you want my mother?’ she asked. Later, her parents told us how the family had crouched in the woods while soldiers ransacked their house in Syria. More recently they’d been chased through the woods by Turkish police. After we’d spent a few minutes talking with her parents, she returned to being a child and could not stop hugging us, and laughing, and saying ‘I love you so much.’ But I went to sleep that night remembering the terror on her face when we first asked to speak to her mother.

(Lesvos, Greece)

depend on each other

if you have had nothing
and been hungry
you understand
what it means to be a refugee
you have had that experience
and when you see them in their hunger
you hand out bread 
so as to feed them in a small way
(the other hunger for love
is also fed)
see the soul shine
in the ordinary mortals about us
don't depend on government for help
instead look to those who have little
look to the ordinary citizen
for the way to change
depend on each other 
for government is in chains
and won't be any use at all
“My father was a farmer and we had eight siblings. I went to Australia when I was fifteen because my family didn’t have enough to eat. I was on a boat for forty days. When I got there, I couldn’t find a job, I couldn’t speak English, and I had to sleep on the street. I know what it’s like. So everyday I drive the van to the port and hand out bread to the refugees. My son is my business partner. He says, ‘Baba, please. It’s fine to help. But not every day.’ But I still go every day because I know what it feels like to have nothing.” (Kos, Greece) 

the underbelly of a problem --------“It’s inexplicable to me how a loved one could have wounds that cause infections that reach to the bone,” Wildrose Seniors Critic Kerry Towle said.

The underbelly of a problem is pretty interesting. When I was naive I used to believe everything everyone told me. Now I simply smile.  Take continuing care for example. We never heard anything about the problems in this area and if you would look at the newspapers you won't hear anything. Oh sure once in a while you get a story about this poor woman being eaten by mice or the seniors who get burnt in baths over and over but the real bad stories only get whispered about between citizens. Why? I'd say because folks are afraid. The society is built on fear.  And in Alberta we've had 44 years of Tory rule to keep the fear structure in place.
Now we have the NDP in power and so far I haven't seen any changes.

This may change or it may not.
When you have fixed structures you don't often get much renovation happening with new owners sometimes who might be distracted by mortgage payments and don't worry too much about the state of the house itself.
Who knows.
In any case, it is illuminating for all of us to look at the stories we find about the families who have been through hell in continuing care because this gives us the details of the failures in the system that are not being effectively dealt with by government.

If we go back in the past we had the McKenzie Towne Centre in Calgary being spanked and then it was over and we forgot about it. What is being done at the place? Is it compliant?  Who knows?
We only found out about this story because of family yapping day and night.

Cassie Liska at McKenzie Towne Long Time Care by Revera centre in Calgary Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. Liska is the daughter of a former resident who suffered blood poisoning at the centre.


In this case the daughter had six years of hell. Lucky for her the Wildrose party got media attention and she got to get the word out. Most of us can't generate this sort of media attention unless we are rock stars. Cassie Liska's story is a good one because it gives us all the flow sheet of what we need to do to get the information about abuse out to the public.

What did Cassie Liska do?

1) Did a Protection for Persons in Care Report.
In her case the report actually got out to the public.
My report is still in limbo. Oddly enough the folks at Alberta Health are withholding the report since May 2015.
I wonder how long they will stonewall with the report?
It's such an abuse of process but maybe we should have voted Tory. When we voted Tory we actually got to have the PPIC reports out stat because one thing the Tories understood is that Albertans love their families and shit like this needs to be dealt with fast.
2) Media attention gets the AHS audits and Alberta Health audits out FAST. They are also put on the AHS and Alberta Health websites FOREVER which is such a neat thing don't you think?
The NDP haven't done the ministerial directive.
I wonder why Sarah Hoffman isn't issuing any ministerial directives to get out the AHS and Alberta Health audits? It seems that I will wait forever for these audits. I've also been asking for the meeting that is strangely not yet set up.
In contrast to the slow approach of the NDP the Tory Health ministers got the directives out and the audits were done STAT.
The Tory health ministers all issued ministerial directives and got the AHS reviews done in an incredibly fast pace so as to end the media feeding frenzy.

But of course this is not the case with the NDP who hope that the families with such horrific abuse stories will simply shut up and go away.  In Cassie Liska's case, she didn't do this but she did an incredibly smart thing which was to go to the Wildrosies and get them to hammer the nails of public anger into the Tory façade of caring about these poor people in care. Citizens got to see both the abuse and the failures of the Tories to provide legislation, oversight and just plain competent management of these facilities --and the result was that there was a crack or two in the perfect image of continuing care in Alberta.

Really Cassie Liska was incredibly brave to speak out about these problems because the system will shut you down if you don't have media on your side. Media is what saved Cassie Liska from the dark forces in continuing care.

3. Cassie Liska spoke out because she had to speak out.
But has anything changed?
The government of Alberta under the Tories does a pile of audits, a review, it yaps and then the same things happen over and over again.

So the question arises why do these problems repeat?
I would say -frankly speaking -it is because we don't have legislation that has consequences for care providers that ensure that these abuses are actually treated with some sort of seriousness.  If abuses resulted in loss of license, in loss of funding or a place on a permanent website where citizens can check on performance of providers I'm pretty sure that there would be more efforts made by all concerned to meet the standards of care.

The standards of care. Remember those things? They are here to protect people like Violet MacDonald. Sure doesn't seem to help when you have a resident refuse care. In my mind, refusing care does not remove you from the obligation to provide care. In my mind, just having a risk management agreement  for folks who refuse care---does not absolve you from providing care that meets the standards of care.
Continuing Care Health Service Standards (CCHSS)

The underbelly of a problem is hard to face. Cassie Liska faced it. I am facing it. We will have a few other folks facing it in the future with our increasing aging population. We have to face the underbelly of the problems in continuing care.  Or what? Or they will repeat over and over. Hiding these problems, covering up these problems and pretending everything is pretty pretty won't work. Cassie Liska has warned us of what can happen by going public. Every family that experiences such abuses should go public. And we should all be polite, gentle and kind as we tell about the hell we have all gone through.

Here is a small hint to you all--the Protection for Persons in Care report that you get won't be given to you in a timely fashion. It will be held back for as long as the government of Alberta can hold it back. And don't expect to see the AHS audit report for years (if ever). This is not a transparent system and sure as god made human beings we won't have any transparency under the NDP. As for accountability? Well what accountability did Cassie Liska get? Her mother is dead.

The solution isn't an independent seniors advocate.
It isn't any of these health advocates.
Don't bother with the Ombudsman.
The solution is for every family to yap in the public arena to every newspaper, TV and radio station until there is an increase in understanding of all families about this problem.
Then when these families understand the problem, you can bet that they will be yapping day and night as I am doing to the government of Alberta for legislation with shark teeth, consequences for abuses, oversight that is real rather than imaginary and yes, family involvement that is actual rather than baloney in these facilities.

The solution to the problems in continuing care is for every single citizen to go public with the problems, and never stop yapping.
I imagine such public scrutiny will ensure change.

Calgary senior's untreated bedsores spread to her bones

Case shows Alberta needs independent seniors advocate: Wildrose

CBC News Posted: Dec 02, 2013 5:19 PM MT Last Updated: Dec 02, 2013 8:04 PM MT
Violet MacDonald, 73, died in hospital last October.
Violet MacDonald, 73, died in hospital last October. (Supplied)
Nursing home neglect
Media placeholder







The case of a Calgary senior whose untreated bedsores spread to her bones has prompted calls for Alberta to have an independent seniors advocate.
Violet MacDonald, 73, lived at the McKenzie Towne Nursing Home. Her daughter Cassie Liska says staff at the nursing home never told her family about the extent of the bed sores.
It wasn’t until MacDonald was admitted to hospital in February the family learned how bad they were.
Cassie Liska
Cassie Liska talks about her mother's case during a news conference at the Alberta legislature on Monday that was organized by the Wildrose Party. (CBC )
“I'm here to tell her story today with the hope that changes can be made so nobody ever has to endure the abuse that my mother did,” Liska said at a news conference organized by the Wildrose Party on Monday. “Albertans deserve better.”
Violet MacDonald died in October.  An investigation under the Protection for Persons in Care Act found that she had not received adequate care at the nursing home.
Wildrose seniors critic Kerry Towle says the case shows why Alberta needs an independent seniors advocate.
“The only way to solve these issues is to allow an independent advocate to go in and take a look at the system, see where it's breaking down,” Towle said.
“Hear stories like Cassie's and give the people that are coming forward complete anonymity and complete protection.”
Liska agrees.
“I lived through six years of seeing just awful stuff and somebody needs to be there for everybody in those facilities,” she said.

AHS now on site

MacDonald had refused care from nurses a number of times, according to Joanne Dykeman, vice president of clinical services and quality for Revera, the company that owns the McKenzie Towne Nursing Home.
“The Protection for Persons in Care report indicates that the nurses treating Mrs. MacDonald did not want to force care upon her because that would have been considered abuse,” Dykeman said.
“The attending physician is even quoted as saying in that same report that treating her against her wishes would have constituted a fault.”
Health Minister Fred Horne doesn’t believe the province needs an independent seniors advocate.
Instead, he is expanding a review into home care now underway by the health quality council.
"The purpose of the review is to make sure we have the right checks and balances in place so we maintain a constant level of high quality across the system,” Horne said.
“I'm expanding that as of today to include all continuing care facilities in the province.”
The facility is under investigation by Alberta Health Services. Dykeman says that Revera will work to make improvements to the system.

  • Dove Box
This is sad. 20 years ago in my nursing education, we learned that bedsores/bed ulcers were a clear indicator of neglect and/or abuse. In this case and the cases discussed below, why were care providers not responding to these? If a client refuses care, health care professionals cannot turn their back on this either. There has to be a way to manage the care of seniors in a more ethical way.
  • 1 year ago
  • 13
  • Zenyatta
@Dove Box 
You are absolutely correct.

Province admits health system’s failure after senior’s death in care

McKenzie Towne Centre
A government investigation found allegations of neglect surrounding the death of Violet McDonald, 73, who was in care at McKenzie Towne Centre in Calgary, were founded.

  • 0

Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Monday, December 2, 2013 7:16PM MST 
Last Updated Tuesday, December 3, 2013 5:42PM MST
The provincial government admitted Monday that the health system didn’t do enough for one senior living at a Calgary care centre, who died in hospital last month.
Cassie Liska, the daughter of Violet McDonald, 73, who died in October after being rushed to hospital earlier this year, believes staff at McKenzie Towne Centre in Calgary is to blame for her death – they allege she was neglected.
In February, the family realized how bad McDonald’s case had become, saying she had serious bed sores that became infected; she had sat in her own filth for two days.

A government investigation that followed found allegations of abuse were founded – and Health Minister Fred Horne admitted Monday that what happened to McDonald, should not have taken place.
“There is no excuse for a preventable death to occur in the health care system, let alone the continuing care system,” Horne said.
The facility apologized to the family, and said McDonald refused care repeatedly.
“We do apologize to the family,” Joanne Dykeman with the McKenzie Town Centre said in a phone interview from Mississauga, Ontario. “Because of the challenge of treating their loved one, we’re not able to offer the level of care to which we are accustomed, and we do apologize for that.”
McKenzie Care Centre said they welcome a review.
The Protection for Persons in Care Report recommended more communication between care workers and the family, and finding ways to look after patients, even when care is refused.
Horne said AHS workers are monitoring McKenzie Town Centre – critics are pushing the province to create an independent senior’s advocate.
With files from Serena Mah

I say the words of thankfulness / that this place is mine

the garden rips off her clothes
and scatters them all about
I put up the laundry
and fold the items that have been waiting
I say the words of thankfulness
that this place is mine
that the world can be far away
and yet here
there is peace and quiet

the garden slips into winter boots
the bugleweed blares out the news
that wind and rain will soon fade the summer hues
the fall colours are vibrant now
but when the snows arrive with the pickaxe of silence
there will be no more green
summer will tiptoe away like a dream
and we will be captive
in a bed of ice that will encase us in cubes

the garden dances
in her last few days of heat
the burnt blooms of the snapdragons fire
their bullets of red
and the pale geraniums sicken
the lost sunflowers stagger
in their last few days of backbone
there is a hill of forgetfulness
all about the place    and I stand with the laundry waiting 

the garden leaps 
over the fence and gate
to vanish to the far country of the soul
the invertebrates begin to form
the apples rot on the shelves of the lilies
that have splayed their legs about
in misguided patterns
the bugleweed captures the last bees
that are humming on the sheets of their leaves
I say the words of thankfulness      that this place is mine

I must begin

started with nothing
and began to write when I could
I scribbled in the playground
while my sons entertained themselves
walked by the lake in Lac la Biche
and understood loneliness
picked Saskatoons
while the bears ate the fish in the waters there
I learned independence
how to write without censorship
I said the words that I had inside of me
I was afraid
but I said these things

started with nothing
and made a blue soul
out of nails and rusting tin cans
I said to myself
I must begin
life is short and there are no second chances
to do what I will
I put down the hammer
and lived in the small house alone
the words fell about me
I saw the holes in the walls
but I did not let this dissuade me
I knew I had to make badly in order to make something

started with nothing
and watched the faces of those I met
who were using others for their ends
and I saw the future      if I did not learn to think
I would be like those who followed the empty processions
of those who would fall
I said to myself
I must think a poem each day
so as to assure myself
that I have a thinking brain
I made each poem like I made the meals
very badly
but I did not care if they were stinking
I simply made
I washed my hands of the constructs
and let them fly or fall
I could not be bothered with immortality
I was obsessed with growth