Monday November 24, 2014

Out by Tuesday


Ten elderly residents of St. Mary’s Villa have been told they must leave their home. My mother is one of them. This news was imparted at supper on Wednesday, February 15. They were informed that there would be a meeting to discuss this change Thursday evening. The supposed deadline for these people to move was March 31. That is also the date told to the media.
Between Wednesday and Friday, the story changed and the residents were told they needed to vacate by Tuesday, February 21. That’s five days notice. All this was done verbally — nothing in writing. Ten lives thoughtlessly disrupted.
People can only understand the impact of this when they understand how these people lived in this setting. Each resident was renting two modest rooms — a bedroom and a sitting room, each with a bathroom sink and tiny closet — with a toilet closet between the rooms. These are old care rooms with cement block walls, old vinyl floors and drafty windows. Nothing fancy, but each resident made it home by bringing their family photos, pieces of furniture and things too precious to leave when they were no longer able to live in their family homes. They bought window coverings, hung pictures and took small comfort as their worlds shrunk. Meals were included in the rental. Their spiritual needs were met by having the chapel and daily Mass on site – a very important part of their lives. It was home.
Aside from fixing obviously broken things and painting when rooms changed hands, few, if any, upgrades were made. Residents were told it was not worth it because the wing was so old. But it was home.
Their overnight guest room was taken away and turned into offices. Mice and wasps had to be dealt with regularly. There was no air conditioning. But it was home.
Up to this point they were deemed capable of planning and managing their own lives.
Then their world was turned upside down. They were to pack and leave. No warning. No calm discussion of plans. Only pressure to comply.
Confusion reigns. Leave by March 31 as the media reports? No — out by Tuesday. Compensation package — what and when? Who knows. Dignity? Respect? Empathy? No more laundry after Monday. Residents packing through their tears, feeling disposable, grieving the loss of their homes, with no time to come to terms with these awful changes to their lives. The stress and feelings of betrayal and abandonment are very real yet go unacknowledged.
All citizens are entitled to social and economic security. These elderly citizens are on fixed incomes. If they are subsidized for a year only, what happens thereafter? Another move? Does the Health Board care? It is interesting to note that in their posted profiles some members are proud to be affiliated with churches. How does this behaviour reflect their beliefs?
There is no dispute that the mandate of a facility can change. But the process can be thoughtful and caring. The residents can be consulted in a timely manner. They can be made to feel like they have some control in planning their futures – socially and economically. Not in this case. Why?
The Saskatoon Region Health Board has behaved shamefully. Perhaps they should ask themselves this question: “What would your mother say?”



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