TAIT: Share concerns about how people are treated by caregivers

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We have all heard and read stories about the atmosphere in care homes. Sadly, some are understandable, which I have personally seen. But they still give Canada a valid reason to be embarrassed.

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We need to address that with reverence, respect, and compassion.

We do not choose to fall ill. Moreover, we cannot — and never will — stop time from marching on, slowly halting bodily functions.

So hospitals and nursing homes and extended care centres should rightly be put under the microscope for how some patients are being mistreated.

Call me Doug Downer if you want. But since we have turned this column to focus specifically on people living with disabilities, hard questions are going to be pondered. And, hopefully, truthfully answered.

There is an elephant in this space — white, for those of you paying specific attention — that needs to be dealt with.

Words from the poet Sappho from 2,600 years ago. “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” It does, most profoundly, make sense.

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But, we must ask ourselves with absolute brute honesty, what if it protects those with self-perceived power and control?

Call in a university physiology class to perform a detailed study of folks living with disabilities and seniors in the forefront.

We have all heard from someone we know of negligence or disrespect or even — unthinkable — abuse.

Speaking out is a risk — a monumental risk, indeed — to criticize someone who comes to help you with basic living needs.

This is where the rubber meets the road. For decades the common philosophy for the masses is that if someone is in the helping profession they are “doing you a favour” or doing it out of the “goodness of their hearts.” Rather than doing their job.

Hey. Been there. Done that.

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As someone with a disability who has relied on others for personal care for more than 40 years, I am grateful for the service. Not help … service. It is, alas, their job — the same way my job is writing in the newspaper.

Now, newspapers have customers — readers and advertisers. When one of those folks has called my editor pointing out how I screwed up, I get called in the office and given what for. As I should. My boss — my editor — needs to make me accountable.

It just happens to be a part of business, no matter how we try to tell ourselves health care is not a multibillion-dollar industry. Accountability is the key.

And now for the “C” word — consumers. Albertans who receive home care are consumers and have a fundamental constitutional right to voice their concerns when they have concerns … without being afraid of consequences.

This is a big ask. But it all begins with consumers of home care sharing their experiences.

I want to hear them. Email me cam@camtait.com. And I will protect your identity.

We need to create a more caring culture for the next generations — with or without our true names.

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