Larry Hughes is trying to help make sure a senior will have a place to go when she gets out of the hospital. RON WARD/TIMES & TRANSCRIPT

Social Issues

Coalition upset over senior’s eviction

Main story image Cecile Cassista, executive director of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents' Rights,
An advocate for seniors says it is “absolutely appalling” that a local woman was served an eviction notice from a special care home due to behaviour issues, after only two months.
Cecile Cassista, the executive director of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents’ Rights, said she was recently approached by someone whose 85-year-old relative was evicted from Sunset Village Special Care Home in Moncton due to aggressive behaviour.
“We’re talking about elderly people that have built this country, helped build this province and it’s treating them with disrespect,” she said. “(Special care homes) applied for a license, they are approved through the government and they shouldn’t be able to cherry pick who they keep in their facility.
“It takes about a year for people to adjust when they live in these conditions. And unfortunately when she was eventually told that she would be affected, she was very upset about it.”
Larry Hughes is the man who approached Cassista seeking help. The woman who was in the special care home is his wife’s aunt by marriage and they have assumed responsibility for the woman through power of attorney. She moved into the special care home in November 2012 and was served an eviction notice on Jan. 8.
Hughes stressed that he doesn’t believe the special care home is at fault for the eviction, as the report given of the incidents included the woman pushing, shoving and having verbal outbursts. However, he wants to see a better system put in place to deal with situations like these, with more work being done to ensure seniors are placed in the right types of homes, rather than having them soon after put out in the cold with nowhere to go when the living arrangement doesn’t work.
“Of course a special care home is not a place for someone who may be more than they can handle or are expected to handle. Fair is fair. But in the mean time you are still dealing with a person, so you can’t in my mind keep shipping them back and forth between where they are and somewhere else and the somewhere else is totally unknown,” he said. “You are discussing things with a senior who doesn’t remember the occurrences and the hospital says ‘She’s OK, take her back,’ they say ‘we’re not sure we want to.’ You go around and around and around. The merry go round is not so merry and at some point it’s got to stop and reach a decision. It may not be the happiest for all parties, but at least a decision.”
Hughes said the senior ended up at the special care home after having some falls and making the decision herself that she couldn’t safely live at home anymore. After being evicted from the special care home she was put into the hospital and in the meantime she has developed some back pain and an infection. She is currently under examination in the hospital and awaiting a more permanent home, while also being assessed to determine if she requires more stringent care than what is provided by a special care home.
“Fortunately in a sad way to comment, she’s back in the hospital and things may get turned around. But in the meantime it still leaves a lot of soul searching, questions, pieces of the puzzle that need to be put together. But there will be more folks like that,” Hughes said. “Being a baby boomer myself, there’s lots of us coming down the track here. It’s going to be interesting to address those issues.”
An employee at the Sunset Village Special Care Home refused to comment when reached Monday, suggesting any comments to media would come from the government.
Jean-François Pelletier, a communications officer with the Department of Social Development, noted they aren’t able to discuss any specific case due to privacy legislation. However, he did provide some specifics about how issues are dealt with at special care homes when they arise.
“Special care home administrators will try to work with the family in addressing an issue, usually over many weeks and months, before taking action to evict someone,” he wrote in an e-mailed statement. “In absence of collaboration from the resident and their family, the special care home will provide a formal notice that the placement has been terminated at a certain date (at least 15 days notice), if the situation is not addressed in the meantime.”
Cassista doesn’t believe the due diligence was done in this situation. She has issued a complaint to Social Development Minister Madeleine Dubé regarding this situation and she wants an investigation to be launched.
“We just believe that this is just very disheartening for operators. The act got changed — at one time the standard operating procedure said they could give you a notice within 15 days, that was it,” she said. “Now basically they have to involve a family member and the person that is affected and the social worker. So when talking with Mr. Hughes I asked him to get in touch with the social worker — the social worker knew nothing about it.
“The only time operators can discharge somebody is if there’s a safety threat to themselves or other individuals in the facility.”
Pelletier added that in its election platform, the Alward government “committed to expand the mandate of the provincial Ombudsman to include nursing homes, special care homes and home care services as part of a new Seniors’ Charter of Rights.” He said that the work is currently underway and being led by the Department of Healthy and Inclusive Communities.
Cassista said in the two Moncton-area hospitals there are currently 115 seniors awaiting placement in other residences and across the province there are 545. She hopes the situation is more closely monitored in the future and she’s also hoping medical staff are put in place at special care homes in order to better meet the needs of residents.
“It sends a bad message to other seniors when people get evicted,” she said. “It silences them and I shutter when I hear another senior being evicted.”
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January 29, 2013 09:29:05AM
This lady's bed wouldn't even be cold, till they had someone else in it, I imagine. All Nursing Home administrators should have to attend meetings on proper procedure..I doubt if this lady is the only one that this happened to.
January 29, 2013 01:45:36AM
As a Senior who might be in such a situration, I hope this gets attention.. Special care means professional people with special abilities. (not special equipment like chairs with attachs) so small problems like this type does not seem difficult to address. Sad that such lack of concern that it happens.