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Health

 

WHOSE LIFE IS IT ANYWAY?

Adult Guardianship Act is flawed'

 

 

JON KOCSIS, VICTORIA

FILE PHOTO

PUBLISHED MONDAY—SEPTEMBER—269

 

 

or the past three years Stuart has been the sole caregiver for his wife Deb. Deb has Alzheimer's disease and cannot take care of herself. She depends on Stuart to provide the necessities of life and to find her when she gets lost in her own mind. He loves her and does this duty willingly as a good husband should. At this point of her disease she does remember her husband but we all know this is a degenerative illness and these times of recognition will become fewer and fewer.

The nurse at Surrey Memorial called the police who went to the house and found her there alone in the dark. She was committed to the hospital where she could be cared for in Stuart's absence.

 

Stuart was involved in a dispute with his landlord over the livability of the rental home he had for himself and Deb. There were broken windows, no heat and a number of other things the landlord had promised would be fixed when he moved in. Stu had brought an action before the Rental Board. The landlord countered with an eviction notice. The hearing was scheduled for May 28th.

Because of this emergency situation, of course Stuart was unable to attend. This landlord knew of Stuart's hospitalization but proceeded with the hearing, not telling the board that he knew why Stuart wasn't there. He manipulated the situation to get the judgement for eviction. Rather than following due process and the law, which requires him to file with a bailiff, he went to the house, and changed the locks. 

The landlord then proceeded to remove all of Stuart and Deb's belongings and dispose of them in a 60 yard bin to the dump. I went there on May 30 to ask the landlord to allow me access to recover Stuart's wallet and keys but everything was already gone. The only remedy to this situation is to go before the board, explain the situation and have the decision rescinded and reheard. I will also now apply on Stuart and Deb's behalf for compensation for the illegally removed belongings.

To top things off, it was later discovered that a tenant (a lady renting the spare room) had taken his wallet and cleaned out his bank account of $1500+ and disappeared, refusing to return his calls. The police are still investigating this incident but nothing has been done yet and recovery of funds is unlikely.

Stuart was released from the hospital on June 7 with nothing but the clothes he was wearing when he was rushed to emergency. Since then he has lived a nightmare commenced by an uninformed social worker at Surrey Memorial Hospital. Due to Deb Pattison being found at home in the dark and in what he deemed "ill health" he commenced an investigation under the Adult Guardianship Act.

 

His sole source of information being the disgruntled landlord who had few kind words to say about Stuart.

 

The date today is September 23rd. Deb has been held prisoner under this flawed piece of legislation at Peace Arch Hospital for well over 100 days. Now don't get me wrong... I completely understand the need for the protection of the vulnerable in our society, children and seniors, but for almost four months Stuart has been treated worse than a criminal with no access to information, timelines and procedures to bring this situation to a close. There is no recourse for a person in this situation other than to bring a petition before the Supreme Court and for a pensioner trying to get his feet back on the ground an option that is a financially unobtainable.

 

Quite simply put, the act requires that the "authority" conduct themselves in the least intrusive manner possible and that if intervention is required to put together a care plan, either for financial or health reasons, or both. Financially Deb is on a pension that barely covers her monthly rent, food and medication. Physically Deb is doing well and only needs occasional doctor visits and some minor medications.

 

Her care plan is a simple budget, medication calendar and planned doctor visits. A care plan that took me about 1/2 and hour to work out and put on paper.

 

To this date, Fraser Health has not asked Stuart about the circumstances surrounding that day in May nor have they worked with him to put a care plan in place for Deb. As a matter of fact, in over 100 days they have done nothing but "commence" an investigation. By July 15th Stuart had secured a house and furnishings here in Victoria for them to live in, found a local walk-in clinic to take care of her health needs, contacted the Alzheimer's Society for community support and prepared a care plan for her health and financial needs.

 

Deb cries on the phone to Stuart every day wanting to be at home with him. Again, I stress the fact that she suffers from a degenerative disease and the quality time they have left together is limited. There is no reason for her to be held hostage by Fraser Health while they "commence" and eventually conduct their investigation. She has a home and a loving husband. To tear a couple apart, in the twilight of their lives and during the few remaining days of Deb's lucidity is probably the most "intrusive" type of intervention possible. There is a good chance that if this continues at the pace so far set by Fraser Health that Deb may not even know who her husband is by the time this is finished. And for what? A paltry pension and regular doctor visits?

 

I bring this to your attention because I believe the people of British Columbia have to know about this situation and how easily it could happen to them. I'd also like to suggest that you do an article about an "Enduring Power of Attorney" and how preparing one can help protect people from getting caught up in this kind of thing in the remaining years of their lives.

 

An Enduring Power of Attorney is the ultimate authority to act on another's behalf and must be prepared while both spouses are of sound mind.

 

The Adult Guardianship Act is flawed as the protections for the people that should be built into it were left out of final reading in order to get it passed. I believe in the need for the act but disagree that the power to both charge, investigate and convict lies with one authority. There is no impartial body to seek relief from like there is in the civil and criminal courts. The authority, Fraser Health in this case, exercises a heavy hand, withholds information, hides behind bureaucracy, lies and steals with impunity and generally acts without any compassion for the family of the people involved.

 

Deb is held prisoner by Fraser Health. Our dealings with the Provincial Guardian and Trust have been forthright and they are only investigating her finances. They have not hindered Stuart in any way from ensuring Deb has a home to come to, nor do they have anything to do with her being held hostage at Peace Arch Hospital. A social worker at Surrey Memorial Hospital went into Deb's purse while she was there and removed her social insurance card. To this day Stuart has been unable to retrieve it from them. Fraser Health is investigating Deb's health, not her finances. According to the PG&T they have no reason to withhold her card. According to Service Canada this is theft. Stuart must file his taxes and apply for his pension. He needs his wife's social insurance number to do so.

 

The Provincial Guardian & Trust, on their website, have posted an article about the flaws with this act... The act that they operate under. It's a very interesting read and identifies the flaw that leads to this kind of situation. This act needs to be changed for the protection of the people of British Columbia and I feel the only way to have that happen is for the people of British Columbia to be aware of what can happen and to let their MLA's know of their concerns.

 

My hope is that you will follow this up by having one of your investigative reporters look into this and present what they find to the people. This is a real concern and I've witnessed first hand how devastating this can be on the quality of life people are looking forward to in their golden years.

 

 

 


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