Human Rights Should Never Be Disabled. Forced into LongTerm Care at 49, my sister with Down syndrome wants apology.
With the stroke of a pen, my disabled sister's human right to decide where she lives was wrongly taken away in 2013. In a heart-breaking move, Teresa who has Down syndrome, was "placed" against her wishes into a long-term care "nursing" home, by the Ontario health care system. Four days later, she was rescued by my 91-year old father who was "adamant" he did not want his daughter living in a nursing home. (Teresa came to live with me, her sister.) But then the nursing home called the police, in a shockingly callous and bizarre effort to force her back.
See the presentation I made with Teresa, to the Ontario Government's Select Committee in January 2014: Teresa’s story: Crisis, Capacity and Courage. The Select Committee acknowledged in their July 2014 report, “Long-term care homes are pressured to accommodate young and middle-aged people with developmental disabilities without any medical need for this type of care or any training to support this group of clients.”
Since 2013, Teresa has been demanding a full apology from the Ontario government, the CCAC and the long-term care home.
UPDATE JULY 29, 2016 - Close to Victory But Not Quite There...
Finally, the Ontario Government admits a mistake was made!
On July 22nd, 2016 after two and half years, and after more than 26,000 people told the Ontario Government that human rights should never be disabled, the Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins sent this brief statement of apology to Global News:
“I would like to apologize to Ms. Pocock and her family for her being placed in a seniors residence. All Ontarians deserve to be treated with respect and compassion as they navigate our system and that includes receiving care in an appropriate setting.”
Will Minister Hoskins now send his apology to Teresa in writing? And will he please admit what the mistakes were so they don't keep happening? We hope so because it would show respect to Teresa for this traumatic life-changing event, and it would help to protect others. We also request that Minister Hoskins replace his misleading euphemism “seniors residence” with the accurate term, “long-term care home”, which underlines how inappropriate the placement was. Teresa, at 49, was put into a long-term care home that specializes in "dementia and palliative care".
It was totally inappropriate for Teresa as she did not need that type of medical care. It was also a violation of her human rights as the BC Civil Liberties Association and seven other signatories emphasized in their July 12th letter to Minister Hoskins: BC Civil Liberties Association writes to Ontario Ministry of Health re: Violation of Teresa Pocock’s Human Rights
BCCLA wrote, “We believe and support Ms. Pocock’s statements that she did not want to be put into a nursing home.”
“We are gravely concerned that the government, through its actions, appears to condone the forced placement and mistreatment of developmentally-disabled adults.”
The BCCLA, Canadian Association for Community Living, Inclusion BC, Plan Institute, People First of Canada, Spectrum Society for Community Living, Vickie Cammack, and Al Etmanski have all joined together to send a clear message to the Ontario Government: Teresa Pocock’s forced admission to an Ontario long-term care home violated her human rights.
The BCCLA letter prompted Christina Stevens, Global News to do a two-part series. Stevens pressed Minister Hoskins for the apology on television. Watch: "More than 2,900 Ontarians with developmental disabilities live in long-term care facilities"
Global's coverage shows that Teresa is just the tip of the iceberg -- and the government has known about this systemic problem for years.
We ask the Ministry of Health to acknowledge the mistakes that were made in wrongly declaring Teresa incapable and putting her into long-term care against her will. We ask the Ontario Ministry of Health to correct their report to reflect the errors that occurred in Teresa’s case.
By signing this petition you can help Teresa get an apology for the harm done to her -- even to this day, two and a half years later she talks about "danger day". We need a full apology from the Ontario government because this is not just about one person -- it's about standing up for and protecting the human rights of all people with disabilities.
The truth is that if we had not rescued Teresa from the nursing home, she would have been living in an institution -- with no right to choose otherwise -- for the rest of her life. How could this happen in Canada? That's what Teresa and her supporters want to know.
Teresa is not the only one being hurt. Thousands of developmentally disabled people are routinely being forced into inappropriate "care" across Canada and the USA.
This is wrong. And it is having a catastrophic effect on the lives of so many people like Teresa.
We need to stand strong to protect the rights of developmentally disabled people. Please sign Teresa's petition, because human rights should never be disabled. Thank you in advance for your support!
P.S. Please further help Teresa by tweeting this petition #DisabilityRights
2016 - More than 2,900 Ontarians with developmental disabilities live in long-term care facilities http://globalnews.ca/news/2843104/more-than-2900-ontarians-with-developmental-disabilities-live-in-long-term-care-facilities/
2016 - Ontario woman forced into long-term care wants apology from provincial government http://globalnews.ca/news/2840135/ontario-woman-forced-into-long-term-care-wants-apology-from-provincial-government/
2016 - BC Civil Liberties Association writes to Ontario Ministry of Health re: Violation of Teresa Pocock’s Human Rights http://www.prettyamazing.ca/bccla-teresa-pocock-ontario-mohltc/
2016 - Teresa's Book Launch and Art-show: "Pretty Amazing: How I Found Myself in the Downtown Eastside" http://www.prettyamazing.ca/pretty-amazing/
2016 - Artist with Down syndrome written off as ‘incapable’ blooms in the Downtown Eastside http://www.prettyamazing.ca/artist-with-down-syndrome-written-off-as-incapable-blooms-in-the-downtown-eastside/
2016 - South Dakota Wrongly Puts Thousands in Nursing Homes, Government Says http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/03/us/south-dakota-disabilities-nursing-homes.html
2016 - Institution Watch: "Human Rights Should Never Be Disabled" by Franke James Institution Watch Spring 2016 Newsletter
2016 - Family Support Institute of BC: Human Rights Should Never Be Disabled - http://www.frankejames.com/human-rights-should-never-be-disabled/
Nowhere Else to Go: 2007 / Toronto Star http://www.thestar.com/life/2007/02/16/nowhere_else_to_go.html
Disabled Forced into Nursing Homes
"In 1987, The Arc of Illinois filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities forced into nursing homes who did not require nursing home care."
To learn more about Teresa, please visit www.teresapocock.com
- CEO, The CCAC-Toronto
- Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Hon. Dr Eric Hoskins
- Premier of Ontario
- Ombudsman of Ontario
- Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould
- Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
Honourable Carla Qualtrough
To: Minister Eric Hoskins
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
80 Grosvenor Street, 10th Floor, Hepburn Block
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2C4
Re: Human Rights have been disabled by Ontario’s Healthcare System
Dear Minister Hoskins,
Teresa Pocock has now become a symbol of the Ontario Government's failure to protect and defend the rights of developmentally disabled adults.
At age 49, Teresa was forced against her will into an Ontario Long-term Care Home in November 2013. The traumatic experience shattered her trust and created psychological distress that compelled her to leave her home province of Ontario and move to B.C. with her sister, Franke James. The fact that Teresa has been thriving outside of an institution is proof that she should NEVER have been placed in long-term care.
We the undersigned supporters of human rights, are deeply concerned that your Ministry has violated Teresa’s rights, which are protected by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Canadian Charter and Ontario Laws.
Your ministry conducted a 14-month long investigation into Teresa’s treatment. Ministry documents obtained in 2016 under Freedom of Information laws show that the investigation uncovered evidence that Ontario laws were broken and that Teresa’s legal rights were violated. Despite finding evidence of institutional wrongdoing, the Ministry of Health produced a “whitewashed” report that concluded that government agencies had done nothing wrong.
We are gravely concerned and shocked that your Ministry has chosen to ignore the mistreatment of a developmentally disabled adult -- and therefore appears to condone it. From her very first interaction with the government agencies responsible for her admission into Long-term Care, Teresa Pocock’s treatment was legally flawed, disrespectful and showed evidence of bias against her.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 14 protects Teresa Pocock’s right to “Liberty and security of person”, and states that she is not to be deprived of her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily, and that any deprivation of liberty must be in conformity with the law, and that the existence of a disability shall in no case justify a deprivation of liberty. Teresa Pocock’s rights under Article 14 were trampled with impunity when she was forced into long-term care against her will.
Her right to decide where she lives—a right guaranteed under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 19—was unlawfully taken away by an Ontario social worker who conducted her Capacity Assessment without proper consent and against Teresa Pocock’s written legal directions.
We are disturbed that your Ministry is ignoring obvious breaches of Ontario legislation and violations of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Are Teresa Pocock’s legal rights being dismissed because she is a vulnerable woman with a developmental disability?
We ask that you review your Ministry’s investigation and correct your findings. Please pay special attention to Teresa’s rights to “equal benefit and protection before and under the law” as guaranteed by the Equality of Rights section in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Minister Hoskins, this is not the first time Teresa Pocock’s case has been brought to your attention. Your Ministry staff have flagged her case as “high-profile”. Documents show that you have been aware of Teresa’s situation since October 2013, before she was forced into long-term care. In late March 2014 you intervened at the request of those who opposed Teresa’s release from the Long-term Care Home.
Yet, as Minister of Health your response to Teresa Pocock’s and Franke James’ requests for help has been silence and denial. This, despite receiving their formal complaint, their petition with over 26,000 signatures, their complaint to the Ontario Ombudsman, and many letters sent to you on Ms. Pocock’s behalf.
Your Ministry's refusal to answer the questions about her mistreatment sets a dangerous precedent. There are thousands of other disabled adults in the Ontario healthcare system. Many of them are inappropriately placed in end-of-life care. This mistreatment of disabled adults in Ontario cannot be allowed to continue.
Teresa Pocock has now become a symbol of the Ontario Government's failure to protect and defend the rights of developmentally disabled adults. Her active career as an emerging artist in B.C. is living proof of the Ontario Government’s abject failure in declaring her ‘incapable’ in 2013.
An apology to Teresa Pocock is long overdue.
Teresa is demanding an apology from you for the trauma and lasting harm your organizations have caused her.
We urge you to acknowledge the mistakes that were made and issue a formal apology to Teresa Pocock.
We urge you to uphold the laws of Ontario and defend Teresa’s rights and the rights of thousands of vulnerable adults who are currently in the care of Ontario’s Ministry of Health.
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