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Tuesday, 15 January 2008

ARE PEOPLE RESIDENTS OR INMATES?

In the following article, Mr. Dave Brown from the Ottawa Citizen, describes to us how he was thrown out of the Carlingview Manor, a long-term facility when he attempted to interview a perfectly lucid 60 year old smoker who took the leadership to fight for a smoking room for the 40 smokers in the facility.

Kudos to Mr. Brown for bringing yet another horror story to the public’s attention and shame on the legislators of the Smoke Free Ontario Act for having created such a barbaric situation for the elderly who are not only put in danger when left unattended in the cold to smoke, but whose constitutional basic rights are also violated by tyrannical house rules in these homes.

Will Mr. Delahunt, have the same fate as the other four known Canadians who, dare we say, were murdered by such an irresponsible, inhuman legislation? Is this the type of society the rest of us want for our retirement years? Where is the outrage from the relatives of these seniors? Where is the outrage from the public? Incidentally, with a little bit of luck, the Perley Veterans will get their room in February 2008 as you can read here. Let’s remember that this 80 000 $ room will be dismantled in five years as we reported here. The public's generosity is a clear sign that the citizenry does not want to punish smokers, however as generous as their gesture was, it is not the public’s responsibility or duty to finance these rooms. Anti-tobacco has created this situation, anti-tobacco should be held accountable for the suffering, deaths and dilapidation of public funds they have caused! If you are outraged and disgusted by this situation, you can tell us, but more importantly please call, write or visit your MP’s and MPP’s and let them know exactly how you feel.

Facility curbs right to meet
Order to end interview raises question: Are people residents or inmates?

Dave Brown, The Ottawa Citizen Published: Monday, January 14, 2008

The war against smoking has fallout as the vanquished discover they've lost not only the right to smoke, but in some cases, basic Charter rights -- like freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

One week ago, I was ordered out of the lobby of Carlingview Manor, a long-term care facility on Carling Avenue. Apparently, the resident who invited me had not first sought management approval for the visit. The order came from the home's director, Bruce Peterkin.

I didn't leave quietly and, in a later telephone conversation, apologized to Mr. Peterkin for the temporary loss of my volume control. Volume doesn't show in print, but I'm still screaming.

An interview with resident Don Delahunt about his efforts to get a smoking room at Carlingview Manor took a darker turn when the long-term care facility's director intervened, and said the reporter needed permission to speak to Mr. Delahunt -- who is not of diminished capacity and has the paperwork to prove it. Don Delahunt is 60 years old, a smoker, and he's sane. He has the paperwork to prove it. It was part of his medical package when he moved in after months in hospital. He had a stroke July 27. It left him blind and in a wheelchair. He's one of 40 smokers in the place, and they want a smoking room. He took on a leadership role in the fight.

It was my use of a notebook that triggered the alarm that an interview was in progress, and Mr. Peterkin appeared. When his order to leave was refused, he said police would be called. Fine. I'll wait. But Mr. Peterkin stayed, and it became clear an interview would be impossible.

The only way it would happen, he said, would be if I left, called him, and had my acceptance of Mr. Delahunt's invitation approved. The story suddenly moved from smoking to basic rights. Perhaps if Mr. Delahunt invited me to his private quarters upstairs?

I was told to leave, call, and talk about it. My volume increased. He said he would make himself available for our talk later, but meanwhile, had more pressing matters.

On the edge of losing my temper, I left. Mr. Peterkin called later to tell me I had been approved, and gave his view on the smoking issue. He said government regulations shut down the manor's smoking room more than a year ago, and new regulations make upgrading costs prohibitive. It's the same for 630 similar long-term care homes in Ontario.

But the issue now was the right of the institution to control residents' rights to speak to whomever they want -- or to use the lobby for such conversations.

Are they residents or inmates? Is there a fear of whistleblowing or complaining?

The need to protect a person of diminished capacity is understandable, but should not equal care be taken to protect the rights of the able?

Mr. Peterkin referred the issue to head office. That's Central Care Corporation in Mississauga, with 90 seniors facilities in Canada, and the spokeswoman is Mary Nestor.

It's a confusing issue, she said, pointing to just some of the legislation that governs such homes -- The Residential Tenancies Act (2006), Landlord and Tenants Act, Nursing Homes Act, Charitable Homes Act, Municipal Homes Act and the list goes on. The Smoke Free Ontario Act is in there, too.

She supported Mr. Peterkin's handling of the situation.

Ann Dobbins didn't. A registered nurse and long-time seniors advocate, she is now a researcher and liaison officer with Alavida Lifestyles, a new player in Ottawa's retirement residence field. She called the approach "ridiculous" and a "violation of rights. They (residents) have a right to talk to anybody they want to."

It's a situation that is growing more complex as legislators grind out more legislation.

My suggestion: If management is concerned about a resident conferring, its first question should be to itself. Is there a power of attorney on file for that patient? If there is, step in immediately. If there isn't and you step in, you're out of line and don't be surprised if somebody raises a voice of objection.

I think I just withdrew my apology.

With Mr. Delahunt and myself at the lobby meeting was Howard King, 87, another resident/inmate proudly born and raised in Sydney, N.S. He said he's been smoking for 80 years. He offered something to think about: If they (anti-smoking campaigners) are worried about polluting the air, they should think again about a room with exhaust. He said he's pretty sure not every resident is, like smokers, stepping outside to pass gas. Ask him if he always does that, and he'll give you a look of great piety.

Society declared war on smoking. We won. What's happening now is the mopping-up phase, and we're giving no quarter. We've become mean. It's tantamount to shooting the wounded.

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