Enough is enough, Prince Edward Island…

October 26, 2016

I’m back.

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.

Senior care.

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.

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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.

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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.

So.

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.

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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.

The trailer got pulled away. The sign remained weakly up. And, “we don’t have money for the Manor, right now.” “It’ll start in 2017,”.

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.

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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.)

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30 thoughts on “Enough is enough, Prince Edward Island…

  1. Winsloe

    Thank You , Miss Jeeves for advocating for our island seniors even though your beloved father has passed and you live in Vancouver, you are thinking about the deplorable conditions that the residents of Riverview Manor have to endure daily. Why are people and their families not speaking out about these delays? Are our seniors not deserving of a new Manor? WHO IS SPEAKING ON THEIR BEHALF???? Our seniors deserve better!!

    1. Thank YOU, Winsloe, for taking time to read my piece and understand my frustrations. I spent the summer in Montague and I was unable to visit the Manor for emotional reasons. This bothered me greatly. I missed seeing some precious people. But, their living conditions haunt me. And, I know how hard I tried to make Dad’s room better but there was only so much I could do. So… I finally put into words my obsessive thoughts. And, you know what, Winsloe? The Premier and the local MLA went to the Manor today. Finally. Yay for social media and blog posts! We’ll see what unfolds but I’m not holding my breath so I will continue to put love into the people who deserve it. All my best, Trilby Jeeves

    2. Mary Dicks

      You are absolutely right Winsloe! Why aren’t the Island people speaking up for their loved ones….Shame on Government for the shabby treatment of our seniors!! It is all about the almighty buck!!! To top if off if a senior is in hospital and waiting for placement they are forced to take whatever is available whether it is in their district or not and heaven knows what part of the Island they may end up!~ And if they refuse the senior is charged $1000.00 a day to remain in hospital until they accept the placement….this is a fact as my poor mother was charged this ridiculous rate….Outrageous!!! Where are our tax dollars going???

      1. Thank you, Mary! I believe this is the right time for people to finally release their quiet frustration regarding this situation, and more. The community has heard too many times the grand promise of greater things to come, and their belief is no longer. It’s crazy making. It’s abuse. Emotional abuse for which the government are not taking responsibility. Maybe they make more money in the liquor store because everyone needs a drink to drown their disappointment. I’m being facetious but… you can’t help but wonder. We need to all speak out and make a stand. I’m glad my blog post has created some energy. More to come… All my best, to you… Trilby

  2. Mac

    Thank you for posting. It is a shame what is happening to some seniors residents. Those owned by big money seem to do well but the cost to the people and their families is too high for “normal” people to afford. The sub-standard housing is all some can pay for and no hope for a better future. I hope our Premier will follow through with political promises and This manor gets the replacement it needs. Unfortunately, there are far too many Seniors homes on PEI that are similar to the Manor. I am getting up in age and dread the day I may need to go to one of these places to finish my earthly journey. Not much to look forward to.
    Again, thank you
    Mac

    1. Thank you, Mac, for leaving a comment. I truly appreciate it. This is a topic that needs to be discussed. It is the elephant in the room. We are all aging and by the looks of things we will be tenting in a middle of a field at this rate. Yes, not much to look forward to. I hope Premier MacLaughlin and his team will look at this more seriously. Move some funds around, and get this done. As a result of this article, the Premier and MLA Allen Roach visited the Manor yesterday. This was a long overdue visit. Promises were said regarding a spring construction, but it will be very hard for anyone, including me, to believe them. We need to keep the elephant alive and noisy until then. Wishing you good health and peace, Mac… Trilby

  3. Darlene White

    My Dad is at Riverview Manor. Thank You for speaking for him and other residents. The caregivers there are wonderful. They do their best they can with what they have to work with. Thumbs up to the staff. They are so good to my father. I am so thankful for that. I find it very hard to visit him there. It is depressing to see the place in the condition it’s in. Darlene White

    1. Thank you, Darlene! I wish things were better for your Dad. It could change so much for the residents to have a NICE place in which to live… not just wait to die. My heart goes to you as I know all too well the situation. And, yes… the staff do amazingly well, especially under the conditions. Imagine if the government actually took care of their staff as well? I can’t imagine having to go to that building day after day (even though I did it for a period of time). They deserve so much more for their difficult jobs. Let’s hope some changes will come faster. I’m not done! All my best to you and your Dad…

  4. Geri

    Well we definitely need a new liquor store on the Island!!! I mean, based on the fact that PEI has the highest binge drinking rate than the rest of Canada and there is not enough staff here on PEI to properly treat this disease as it is…a disease that is destroying more families here than most people know…yes…why not add fuel to the fire?(not good) Please refer to an article entitled “Alcohol addiction a ‘huge problem’ in Prince Edward Island” in the Guardian published June 30, 2014. Sadly June 30th is my sons birthday and he buried his dad 2008 due to alcholism because help was not there……and now instead of helping seniors who deserve such respect, we are opening up a liquor store in Montague so that more young children can lose their dads too? I will never understand Gov’t decisions…some are so unbelievably off track!! And yet this Canadian Gov’t laughs at the States for their choice of 2 presidential candidates???

    1. Thank you, Geri, for bringing up this point. I was sad to read about your son losing his father to alcohol. It is a terrible problem on Prince Edward Island, and a very sensitive subject. And, yes… it seems bloody ironic that they want to open a bigger store so as to have space for “sampling stations and chilled products”. Ugh…just what the community needs. Um.. no. The Canadian government and provincial government have some work to do to look at their priorities. I feel overwhelmed as many stories are coming in and I want to help all of them. One step at a time, and I believe the community is finally mad enough to speak out. More to come… All my best to you and you son, Geri…. Trilby

  5. My mum who passed away in April 2015 was very fortunate in that she lived in a wonderful place; however, while we were looking for nursing homes for her (very long story here! – you can imagine), we saw some awful places… you are right. Why is a liquor store more important than the lives of our elderly folk.

    1. My condolences to you L. Harris.. My father passed away in May 2015. I still miss him deeply. Although, I feel him close as I write and see others’ comments. I’m glad your Mum had a pleasant place for her last days. As it should be. Thank you for leaving a comment. I appreciate the feedback. Best to you… Trilby

  6. Mary-Frances Lannigan

    Thank you so much for speaking up. I have 2 Aunts in Riverview Manor and I agree 100% with everything you have said. It is a deplorable place for anyone to reside. Our seniors deserve so much better. It is a systemic problem. I am grateful for your thoughtful insight into where our tax dollars are being spent. It’s asinine. it’s frustrating beyond belief. What is a person to do. What can anyone do. We see these injustices and all the world of complaining doesn’t seem to do anything. Just ask Paul McNeil.

    1. You’re welcome, Mary-Frances.. (are you related to Mike?…lol) You obviously know very well what the situation is at Riverview Manor. Are your Aunts near each other? How difficult. Thank goodness for the staff but… more is needed. You ask “what can a person do?”. Well… writing publicly and keep sharing this post. We have 6000 views on it and the media is inquiring now, too. We need to demand the government to break ground and prove they mean business this time. (they’re promising for a spring construction now… ) Thank you for writing here… Let’s keep the ball rolling. And, take care of you, too…. Best, Trilby

  7. Tam

    I totally understand, I have been on a long road with my Mom, she is finally in a new home after being placed in what seemed like a closet in other homes, she has a private room, it did not come easy, I am there daily and because of this Mom gets lots of extras however I cringe for the others with no family there advocating for them , as many could benefit from that extra push for Physio, an extra hair wash, etc,
    someone reading their charts and looking out for their best interest. without me there Mom would surely be left staring at walls way more often, with nothing to keep her hands busy as she is confined to a chair, unable to call out to ask for anything, ring a buzer, or get anything for herself. Totally relies on others and if I was not there so often I fear how lonely in her shell of a body she would be. 😦 my struggles started 12 years ago with Mom and i will be by her side until the end. 😦

    1. Hello Tam… Thank you for sharing your story and understanding so well what we have in our hands as caregivers (even if they are in a “home”), advocates, and loving daughters or sons or grandsons etc.. I’m afraid my article is addressing only the tip of the iceberg. You are obviously a very loving daughter who cannot bear to see your mother suffer. And, goodness knows that the staff are overworked and cannot be there for everyone all the time. The topic of the environment, the falling down Riverview Manor, we can begin there. And, that is something the government can help us with. If they choose. My best to you and your Mom. Take care of yourself too… (hard to do, I realize) Trilby

  8. Thank you Ms. Jeeves for your well thought out article. It is time we change the way we deliver care to our ageing population. Addressing residential care facilities is paramount.

    Many do not realize, although I’m sure you do, all of the underpinnings which are failing miserably:
    1) The care templates are severely outdated. They were developed some 20 to 25 years ago and have not been adapted accordingly. Many of the washrooms and hallways are totally inadequate in terms of care delivery. Some rooms do not have the space required for safely handling transfer equipment.
    2) Carehomes and other institutions are running on old governance rulings. Many of the policies, such as the various hospital and/or group home acts are outdated. They do not address the changing demographics of those who now find themselves in institutional care. The average person in one of the residential care facilities now has a minimum of 3 chronic conditions and is on up to 10 medications. Falls, due to inappropriate environs management are sending the residents to acute hospitals all over the country.
    3) The buildings are not being updated and/or built as required. Many governments believed that since seniors were, in general, living longer and fuller lives…and therefore surmised that more people would start dying at home rather than finding themselves in a carehome.

    The result is that many carehomes are not being adequately maintained, let alone renovated.
    – New construction rules are grandfathered in. Example: the tragedy in Quebec a few years ago when fire rampaged through the carehomes. And policies were in place to grandfather in sprinkler systems…but older carehomes were not required to retrofit their sprinklers unless they were adding on new additions or engaging in substantial renovations.
    – A carehome, or similar institution,, when short of funding, is going to be very reticent when it comes to performing major upgrades only to be told they have to retrofit way more than they were prepared to initially. Carehomes are deciding not to remodel or construct additions or even perform major maintenance unless absolutely necessary…because they do not want to bare the burden of the cost of retrofits: improved shower and bathing facilitates, sprinklers, industrial kitchens, etc.. (Of note, all public buildings, education centres, retail, apartment buildings, and prisons are required to retrofit fire sprinklers – but carehomes are not.) When they do perform the larger capital projects, it is usually as a result of a tragedy, like the one in Quebec; or it may have been mandated by government.
    4.) Provinces and their health regions who oversee the carehomes, perform a delicate balancing act, and when the difficult decisions are made, very seldom do they favour the safety and health of the residents and employees and visiting families. They are reticent to pull a license even if the conditions are deplorable…where would the residents go? There are not enough other carehomes to take on the displaced. It becomes, albeit perhaps unintentionally, about “what can we get away with before…” Unfortunately, it often takes a tragedy to bring on the much needed changes.

    As residents of this country, in whichever Province we choose to reside, we have a lot to lose putting this issue in hold. Selfishly, we will ALL be there. Only 2% of those over 70 die in their home. 45% of us will have dementia once we attain the age of 82. And what about our children, our grandchildren…how will they be cared for? We have already let too many generations pass us by…we made a mistake all those years ago not planning for an ageing population…the window to correct this huge misstep is short. Action is required now…by all governments, the not for profit sector, crown organizations, corporations and small business…and you and I.

    We all need to stand up, as Canadians, and follow Ms. Jeeves lead. “No More! Enough is Enough!” Will we make it stop now?

    1. Thank you so much, Mz. Dunbar, for your thorough response. I really appreciate your valuable comments. I hope others will read this information and keep up the search for better systems, and better ways to not just “deal with” our aging problem but rather embrace it and create something more beautiful than medicinal. I appreciate the input from the organization, CARP. I’m sure many are still learning that this organization exists. We need you: http://www.carp.ca/ Keep well, Trilby

  9. Paul Llewellyn

    In reference to Mary Francis Lannigan’s comments, one of the Aunts she refers to is my mother. She has been at this “facility” for well over a year now. My Mom was originally situated at a location in Belfast but the traveling distances involved from Montague to there posed a problem for a lot of my elderly family members to visit. An opening occurred at the manor, unfortunately due to the death of another of my Aunts, and Mom was moved to the Montague manor. I live and work in Ontario so I can only visit Mom when home on holidays! My sister and other family members. luckily, can now visit Mom as often as they can without driving at least half an hour to get there! As many of your respondents state, the building is in disrepair and there are many “unpleasant odors” in the air. (Mom’s room is located directly across from the communal bathroom – with no doors). The staff are exceptional and do what they can to make their patients comfortable. When I first heard about the new manor to be built, I was happy for all involved. There were pictures and plans posted on the bulletin board showing what the new facility would look like when completed. Then I kept hearing about the delays in construction for the project and am loosing hope that Mom will be able to benefit with the new manor. She is 87 years old and pretty frail. When you mention all the other government projects that are going ahead and the millions of dollars being spent (wasted?) while our senior citizens are suffering and putting up with such deplorable conditions…well it makes me angry. Time for these politicians to get there priorities straight. Thanks for bringing this situation forward.

    1. Thank you, Paul, for expressing your thoughts here. As someone who is living far “away” you can appreciate some other frustrations I have also had (and still have as my Mother’s situation is another conversation). I’m sorry your Aunt had to return to the Manor in order to make it easy for family members. For city folk, it may seem silly to consider 1/2 hour traveling to be far, but on the Island, it is significant. Just going 5 minutes between the Manor and Perrin’s Marina Villa (where my Mom is and where my Dad was before he needed more nursing care) several times was hard! There were comments in another area that the road work the government was investing in was not Health care dollars, so there was nothing to do. I consider that a weak argument as money can be moved around if people really want. We do it every day with our personal budgets. And, we know if there is a crisis…suddenly there is money. And, we still haven’t really heard a solid reason why the promised money was not there. I hope the many conversations that have flared up will get the government to act. Words are useless now. Thank you again… and all my best to your Aunt. (I made a spray of a gentle essential oil that I used in my Dad’s room.. lavender and bergamot. Or peppermint.. lightly.. Maybe suggest this to your family?)

  10. Dr Michael Westaway PT Msc DSc FCAMPT

    Thank you for this commentary.This “theme” is rampant Nationally. My family is a seventh generation Montague “resident”. We were homesteaders long ago. Your points are well-taken and being as articulate as you are, your logical and grass roots platform is commended. Seniors need more respect. We can learn a lot from their wisdom and their final years should be laden with compassion, respect and admiration. Physical accommodation should reflect this. Your commentary of the “State of the Union ” for Elder care is excellent.
    Thank you

    Dr Michael Westaway PT DSc FCAMPT

    1. Thank you, Dr. Michael Westaway, for your encouraging comments. I’m glad you brought up that we can continue to learn from our seniors. My goodness… yes, to sit with a senior and share stories is a beautiful experience. And, usually they have some good, fun stories, too. I’ve heard a few! I will continue to advocate and enjoy the seniors in my life. All my best to you and your family. Trilby

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