October 26, 2016
I haven’t written in here for awhile. A long while. Over a year. And, it’s been quite a period of time.
Starting with the death of my best friend, my Dad, May of 2015, looking after my Mom, doing my one woman show (Dusty Shoes) because I had promised my Dad I would, my thirteen year relationship ending, creating a new Christmas ritual as things were VERY different, giving myself a Puerto Rican vacation break, more back and forth between my two “homes” PEI and Vancouver (which is where my hat is truly hung) and MORE!
But. I’m not here to talk about me.
I’m here to talk about… …something that upsets me. And, upsets many. I’m here to talk about a situation that is affecting many of my friends and friends’ families. It is something that probably has affected you.
Let’s open this can of worms. Out spills a variety of issues. The caregiving system, dementia aware, home care, nursing care, community care, trained nurses, untrained caregivers, isolation, old people ghettos, loneliness, safety (I won’t delve into the latest sickening happening) not enough staff, caregiver burnout, financial loss, poor buildings, new buildings that cost an arm and a leg, drugs, drugs, drugs…(numb those seniors out so they won’t be a problem)… The list goes on.
And, it’s country-wide.
But, one issue that strikes close to home takes place where my dear Papa died, and where he begged me a few years ago to “not let me go there, for godssake.”
The Riverview Manor in Montague, Prince Edward Island. No-body wants to go to “The Manor”. (well.. who really wants to leave their own home!) It is an old, falling down building with strange smells, small rooms, poorly designed rooms (so much was out of reach for someone in a wheel-chair like my Dad), a dingy, tiny kitchen for both staff and family of the residents, and floors that can never really look sparkly. Not a place you want to see your loved one live. Thank goodness the staff, who deserve much better surroundings, keep the spirit up as best as they can.
It was devastating when my Dad had to make the choice to go there when he needed nursing care so as to be only a 5 minute drive away from his partner in life, my Mom, instead of a newer place in Charlottetown. She was and still is in the community care facility, Perrin’s Marina Villa in Montague.
They would be separated for the rest of their lives after 50 years of being with each other.
My Dad was a strong, positive individual and never complained. And, don’t get me wrong, most of the staff was exceptional but the environment was less than ideal.
The government of Prince Edward Island made an announcement when I was there in April of 2015, over a month before my father passed away, that money had been set aside to finally build a new manor! Everyone was ecstatic, with some caution, as this wasn’t the first time the government had played this hand. The first time they talked about a new Manor was in 2009! (and maybe as early as 2003)
Oh. And, did I mention there was a provincial election about to happen in May, as well? Interesting timing.
CBC interviewed me on the good news but edited out my skeptical remarks. Of course they did. Everybody is under the government’s thumb in PEI and most likely too frightened to rock any boat.
It took a while, but eventually the next announcement of the new location of the Manor was revealed and even a “The future site of the new Riverview Manor” sign went up. Things were looking a bit more hopeful. A trailer for an onsite office was brought in. More hope.
Residents, families and staff began to believe. Really believe. Sadly by this time, my Dad was gone and he would not benefit from a new, healthy environment. But, I had made many friends who lived there so I continued to hope for them. (To my current dismay, a few of the residents I had come to love have gone as well.)
I think you know where this is headed.
Cry wolf. Where did that money go?
This community has been abused, teased, treated with utmost disrespect, and ignored. Montague is a beautiful location with much potential, but the potential remains just that. I don’t live there, but I have spent months and months there and I know many of its people from all my time at the local hospital with both parents, at Perrins, and at the Manor. I know how hard they work, and how frustrated and fearful they are.
I want to speak on their behalf.
I want to help make a change. I want everyone to be respected. I want the elders to have rooms where they can comfortably share visits with their families. I want the air they breathe to be pleasant and clear. I want people in wheelchairs feel like they can reach for their own toothbrush and water from a sink so as to have even a tiny bit of dignified independence. I want the aging to not feel like they’ve been shoved into a dirty place for the last years or days of their lives. (I know someone who lived 14 years there!)
Last week, after the rain, some of the ceiling fell in. Not on a resident, THIS time.
What will it take before that government will “man up” and take care of their elderly citizens and families? What crisis will force them to find that money and build the Manor of many promises? I hate to think. (read my next post on this)
Oh.. and those new beds the government has suddenly offered? Sorry, not enough.
Oh.. and the government is going to build a new liquor store for Montague? The new building is promised for 2017 as they need a more accessible entrance for customers, places for sampling stations and chilled products, and more efficient systems such as lighting, cooling and heating.
Are you kidding me?
Oh, and that by-pass costing 65 million dollars the government is constructing so cars can go a little faster around the small community of Cornwall? 65 million dollars??? From where did this money suddenly appear? And, no real proof of valid concerns regarding “safety and economics”.
The new Manor is still a figment of our imaginations. And, theirs.
I’m baffled and dismayed at these asinine priorities. And, beyond frustrated. At night, I lay awake in my bed in Vancouver trying to figure out how to make a change. And, you know what? Some ideas are coming….
Enough is enough.
(And, this is just one senior issue.)