The dignity every mother deserves: Proper care for dementia patients.
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I am petitioning the Canadian Minister of Health, The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, to ensure our health system is equipped to deal adequately and humanely with the 400,000 seniors living with dementia in our country.
On June 5th of 2017, I brought my 78 year old mother Patricia Craven to St.Paul’s hospital in Vancouver with the assistance of paramedics. She suffers from Alzheimer’s and home caregivers had been having trouble assisting her as her condition had worsened. After calling 811, the non emergency health line, it was suggested I admit her to hospital to have her medication altered, which I did.
A horrific incident followed. My mother, an elderly Alzheimer's patient, was kept in the emergency ward, surrounded by bright lights and the screams of distressed people for over 10 hours. She finally became agitated and attempted to leave.
Hospital staff quickly called security, asked me to leave the area, and despite her begging them not to, held her down, disrobed her and put her in a four point restraint while a nurse injected her with sedative. I was left to listen to the sounds of my mother screaming and sobbing. Afterward, she was left shaking and confused, with heavy bruising, and no immediate counseling.
Only I was by her side to comfort her. It was a brutal, traumatizing event which, I never could have predicted at the day's beginning.
This unfortunate and needless chain of events happened here in Canada, in the very institution where we are directed to go during our most perilous times. After the article in the newspaper ran, countless families contacted me with similar stories of their own.
Two internal reviews of the incident have justified all of the actions that were taken by hospital staff. Security footage of the incident was "taped over" despite reviews underway. Several misrepresentations and mistruths were scattered throughout both reports. Sadly, I was not surprised by the incident being reviewed and assessed with a protective bureaucratic response.
I hope action can be taken to protect dementia patients in the future. I understand the stresses that hospitals are under - the cruel irony of this incident is that my mother is a retired emergency nurse herself who often commented on the challenges she faced on the front lines of Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.
Proper training to deal with dementia patients is incredibly scant for most hospital staff. But incidents like these can be used to create a movement to promote change. Systems, however flawed, can change under crisis or pressure.
I ask the Canadian Minister of Health -- as well as the BC Minister of Health -- to consult myself and dementia experts, to design and implement an action plan to better equip health care professionals and hospitals to deal with dementia patients.
I want to be a partner in change, not a justice seeker. Family members of dementia patients are often sources of very specific knowledge and should be used as liaisons during transitional times for the patient. During my mother's incident, I was completely under utilized and ignored, which allowed the situation to escalate needlessly.
Seniors suffering dementia often revert to a childlike state, leading with their emotions while being cognitively limited. Would we ever tolerate a child being treated the way my mother was?
Please sign this petition to affect change for those who will experience the journey of dementia. Canada can once again be a world leader in a vital cause. We must be a voice for those who have lost theirs.
Broader details on my mother’s experience can be found in the following article that ran in the Vancouver Sun, after I had contacted the press following the ordeal. Read the article here .
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