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Joni from Ontario's Story

I recently went through “the system” with my father. He was a proud, independent small businessman who worked hard every day of his life. Here is a glimpse at our first full day in an Ottawa nursing home, where he was sent on an emergency placement from a hospital. 

Dad arrived late in the afternoon and I was assured he would be in good hands. He was in a wheelchair and required a two-person transfer. He had emphysema and severe dementia at this time. I visited the next day for a few hours and around 3:30 he needed help to go to the bathroom. I went out in the hall and there was a nurse right next to his room working on some paperwork. I was relieved to see her and asked if she could help me get Dad on the toilet. I was rudely told to ring the bell. I ran back in the room, found the bell and rang it. Dad was very uncomfortable but I just kept assuring him someone was coming. After 10 minutes, I went back in the hall and the same nurse was still there. I asked her again and she said, “Would you give me a moment, please!” I did! Still no help. Dad was so stressed and could only say, “Something big is coming.”.... I started to cry, which made him even more upset. When help finally came (and not from the nurse), I was left in the bathroom with him, which was OK until he told me he was going to faint. I rang the bell in the bathroom. No one came. I rang it two more times. No one came. I held Dad on my chest and when he was OK, I cleaned him up only to find thin toilet paper and no wipes to help. It took me a long time to clean him. We were both sweating and Dad’s bottom was sore from sitting on the toilet so long. Finally a personal support worker came and helped me get him back in his wheelchair. She apologized and told me that the nurse should have helped me as she was busy with another patient. This was our first full day in a Canadian long-term care facility.

Another time I alerted the nurse to the fact that Dad must have a urinary tract infection as he was very uncomfortable in his wheelchair. I followed up every day and could not find out if the tests were back. Three days later I found out they had not tested him as they didn’t think he had one. He was berserk by that time and tied into his wheelchair because he kept trying to get out to go to the bathroom! SHOCKING ABUSE!

It was so bad that one family I met did shifts to stay in the room with their bedridden mother from 10 am to bedtime every day. Another gentleman, whose mom did not have dementia but was dying of cancer, said her bell was never answered.

This is just a glimpse of what “the system” is like now. I have helped my two grandmothers and my mother-in-law over the years while they were in nursing homes and I do not remember their care ever being like this.