9.02.2011

kenney's canada: paralyzed woman to lose independence if caregivers are deported

Just another story of more undeserving immigrants trying to sneak into the promised land. This one is a particularly sneaky ploy. Here's how you do it.

First, emigrate to Canada, a process that takes a minimum of two years, often twice that or longer.

Then, live in Canada long enough to become a citizen, a minimum of three years.

Then have a car accident in order to become quadriplegic. Yay, free health care! That was easy!

Next, find two family members willing to uproot their lives and start over in a foreign country in order to be serve as your full-time caregivers. Can't you just see them high-fiving? "Whoo-hoo, we're scamming the system, taking care of our quadriplegic cousin!"

I suck at this satire stuff. Al Weisel, a/k/a Jon Swift, is sorely missed.

All I can say is: Really, Jason Kenney? Really?
A Toronto woman paralyzed from the chest down is worried she will be forced back into a nursing home if immigration officials go ahead with plans to deport her cousin and his wife, who she relies on for primary care.

Hallima Idan, 47, was left paralyzed after a car accident six years ago.

A wheelchair user with limited use of her arms, Idan requires around-the-clock care to help her eat, bathe and dress.

Idan, a Canadian citizen who immigrated from Guyana in 1997, spent months in hospital after the accident then stayed in a nursing home for about a month. Idan said her nursing home care was inadequate.

"It was so awful," she told CBC News. "They don't shower you, they don't give you nothing proper to eat. Nothing. If I stayed there any longer, I might commit suicide because I can't take it."

Idan said her husband was unwilling to care for her and "abandoned" her. Other family members stepped in to look after her as best they could but could not be with her the 24 hours a day that she required.

Idan's cousin, Mohamed Arpha, and his wife, Zarine, came to Canada in 2007 and began to provide full-time care for Idan in her Toronto apartment.

The couple applied for refugee protection on humanitarian and compassionate grounds but the application was rejected and they were ordered deported.

. . . .

Judith Pilowsky, a Toronto psychologist who specializes in treating people who have suffered acute trauma, wrote a letter in support of the Arphas staying in Canada for compassionate reasons.

In her letter, Pilowsky said if the Arphas are deported, "Ms. Idan is highly susceptible to a complete psychological breakdown from which she will not recover."

Unable to afford private home care, Idan fears she will have to a return to a nursing home if the Arphas are sent back to Guyana.

"I'd rather die than go back [to a care home]," she said.
This story raises several questions, among them: why was this woman's nursing home care so sub-standard? Is that the norm in Toronto-area long-term care facilities? Almost everyone speaks of nursing homes with dread: institutionalization, lack of privacy, lack of independence. Those issues are very real. But the quality of care can still be excellent. Is the woman (understandably) exaggerating because she dreads returning to a facility, or was the care really that bad?

On the main point, why is Canada in such a rush to deport her caregivers? I have read that applications to remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds - referred to as "H&Cs" - used to be granted in about half of all cases, but that now, under Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's watch, the success rate has dropped to less than 20%. (I haven't been able to locate my source for this, but I'll continue to look.) Not for nothing NDP Immigration Critic Olivia Chow calls Kenney the Minister of Censorship and Deportation.

From the government's point of view, what could be more desirable than family caregivers? Unless, of course, the government is hostile to immigration.

13 comments:

Kev said...

Firstly your satire skills are fine, secondly the level of care IS that bad.The state of long term care in this province is a crime as is the behaviour of our federal government on nearly every front

laura k said...

the level of care IS that bad.The state of long term care in this province is a crime

Awful. No wonder Jack Layton emphasized seniors and a life without fear.

Another reason to vote NDP in October.

Thanks, Kev. (And thanks for tweeting wmtc posts!)

Dharma Seeker said...

Actually they are hit and miss. Some are newer than others, and I believe almost all (if not all) are for profit and overseen by the Ministry. The thing is if you need a spot you don't really get to choose - I forget how all of it works but I believe you get to choose three you'd prefer, and if you pass on a spot you can be sent to any available bed in the province. We went through all of this with my Nana and of course I've seen several residences through pet therapy. They aren't all the same, but they could all be better. Quite frankly I would rather be dead too, than "living" in a nursing home or long term care facility. And I don't say that flippantly, it's something I've thought long and hard about for years.

laura k said...

Thanks, D/S. I appreciate the info and your feelings.

Please do note, however, that people are actually living in all different conditions - not "living," in quotes, but truly living. Seniors in nursing homes are alive, and if our society conceives of them as somehow not truly alive, it's very dangerous.

I think when we say out loud, in public, that we'd rather be dead than live like that person over there does, we are grossly diminishing, if not negating, the value of their lives.

Writing about disability, I've heard this many, many times about people who are quadriplegic, paraplegic, blind, what have you. While I understand it as a human reaction of fear, I also think it's very offensive to all the people who do live with those conditions every day.

D/S, of course I realize this isn't what you meant at all. I just wanted to point it out and head off any possible discussion among commenters of conditions we'd rather die than live with.

Thanks in advance for understanding.

laura k said...

I'm also curious about this:

Some are newer than others, and I believe almost all (if not all) are for profit and overseen by the Ministry.

In New York State, for example, for-profit nursing homes are privately run (although of course accountable to State inspections) and super expensive, and publicly-run facilities are much lower quality. The usual system you see in the US. I'm curious if Ontario's system is similar - and if so, why long-term care can get away with being two-tiered.

My sister was Director of Nurses and other similar positions in nursing homes for a long time, so I was a bit familiar with the system, in addition to my own grandmother being in a good quality nursing home for 10 years.

I'm curious in the for-profit aspect of this. I'll look around further for more info. Thanks again.

Dharma Seeker said...

The best sources of general information are CCAC and the Ministry of Long Term Health.

The retirement/nursing homes are private - they are funded/subsidized by the Minsitry. But not entirely.

The age of the residence has to do with legislation that x% of rooms have to be private or semi-private. So the newer the home, the greater the chance of having a private or semi-private room because if that is all that is avaiilable, they can't deny a person a semi-private room in favour of a person who is able to pay more. This is my understanding anyway. I know that collectively my Nana's daughters paid the nursing home hundreds of dollars per month in addition to my Nan's pensions etc.

I respect what you're saying about not making sweeping generalizations that everyone in a nursing home has zero quality of life. What we'd choose for ourselves depends on our personal definition of really living, and we can have that conversation another time :)

I think the conversation about nursing homes, quality of care, access, funding, etc is a very important conversation to have, especially as the boomer cohort ages. Elder care is or will be relevant to most of us, the more we understand about how the system works and how it can be improved the better.

impudent strumpet said...

My grandmother's nursing home says on their website that residents get weekly baths. As though that's some kind of amenity to brag about.

Back when this was still theoretical, various people told me this isn't a problem because elders don't sweat as much or produce as much body oil as younger people do. These statements came with the same tone and credibility as common platitudes like "Children crave boundaries."

In the specific case of my grandmother, it might not be a significant drop in quality of life because when she was still in her own home she appeared to be forgetting to regularly attend to her personal hygiene. But that's far below the general societal norm of daily showers, and is obviously not appropriate for someone like Ms. Idan, who is fully aware that she wants a shower and does not have the opportunity to have one.

I really hope the baby boomers can use their demographic power to get this all fixed by the time I get there.

Dharma Seeker said...

I agree Imp Strump. A weekly bath *might* be enough for an able bodied person who can look after their hygene on a daily bais but for someone who is bed ridden and wearing a diaper it really isn't.

laura k said...

My grandmother's nursing home says on their website that residents get weekly baths. As though that's some kind of amenity to brag about.

Oh holy christ, that is abominable. I know where my grandmother lived, everyone was bathed daily. Everywhere my sister has worked, everyone was bathed daily.

I know care standards varies widely, but advertising a weekly bath like it's a big deal... ugh.

laura k said...

I've written many times about the movement in the US for medicare to pay for home attendants so that people with disabilities can remain in their own homes - which is actually much cheaper. It's been a huge battle, going on for more than a decade. It's referred to as MiCASSA.

A few years ago I reconnected with an old friend and we were catching up on our families. I remembered he had a cousin who was disabled. He had pretty involved disabilities but had a good, rich life.

My friend told me that his aunt and uncle (the man's parents) had both passed away. When they did, there was no one to care for their son. I don't know the details of what they left for him, but he ended up being put in a nursing home. He deteriorated immediately, and was dead within six months.

laura k said...

MiCASSA info from the great disability-rights org, ADAPT.

allan said...

He deteriorated immediately, and was dead within six months.

That is horrifying.

laura k said...

It was. Horrifying.

There are teenagers, people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, in the US living in nursing homes because they need attendant care.