Stories From LTC
AGEISM IS KILLING OLDER ADULTS
Ageism has been defined as “the stereotyping and discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of their age. Ageism can take many forms, including prejudicial attitudes, discriminatory practices, or institutional policies and practices that perpetuate stereotypical beliefs.”(World Health Organization, 2021). In practice prejudicial attitudes that can include isolating, ignoring, infantilizing, patronizing, and in severe cases abusing or neglecting older people can be seen on an almost daily basis in public life.
One such ageist belief is that old people need institutions once they become frail and in need of care. This has led to tens of thousands of old people being warehoused in dangerous, dehumanizing facilities. Yet the call continues to go up – not to get them out into comfortable, safe, community residences that are smaller and more home-like, but to put even more staff into institutions!
On its face this makes no sense because it exposes even more people to infection as more staff either bring it into a large facility or become infected there and take it back to the community.
Nevertheless, in spite of knowing that Ontario has no financial safeguards to ensure that any new money would even go to staffing, in spite of calling for more staff means that corporate-owned facilities with terrible track records will get even more money for which they don’t have to be accountable, and even though calls to put more money into institutions will only maintain and further support the unsustainable institutional system that keeps older adults trapped there, the focus remains on staffing and wages, not on the people in the beds who need to be rescued.
This is ageism at its worst, where the needs of those who care for older adults trump the needs of older adults themselves.
CHILDREN HAVE SUFFERED IN NURSING HOMES TOO
As late as the 1990’s children were suffering and dying in Ontario's nursing homes. Other young people still suffer in them. This is the story of a little girl with an indomitable spirit who made it with the love and help of others and of a community. She showed the world how harmful institutions can be, and the devastating impact that the for-profit model has on vulnerable people. In doing so, she also established with great clarity that taking action to change such systems is worth it, for every single person.
LONG TERM CRUELTY NOT CARE:
AN ADVOCATE’S STORY
©Dr. Patricia Spindel, President, Spindel & Associates Inc.
I promised myself I would never re-visit the horrors I saw starting in 1981 in Ontario’s nursing homes - horrors that caused me to help organize Concerned Friends of Ontario Citizens in Care Facilities into the nursing home advocacy organization it became. Horrors that drove me to organize the Ontario Coalition for Nursing Home Reform. Horrors that inspired me to, with the help of Dr. Birthe Jorgenson co-found the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly.
A Senior’s Prayer
To the tune of "Over There"
Say a prayer..say a prayer,
For all seniors in long term care,
There are changes needed…
So badly needed,
For years nothing has improved
In long term care.
Soon you’ll be there,
So be aware and prepare,
Say a prayer for warehoused seniors
In long term care,
What we’re saying,
We’ll keep on praying
And won’t stop praying
‘Til they reform long term care.
Stan Marshall, Contributor