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Trust in public system shouldn’t lead to tragedy

June 19th,2024 | Valley Voices

I would like to respond to Teresa Bandrowska’s letter (“Headline in elder death misleading, Masham care home ‘exemplary’” June 12 edition) to offer some clarification. My mother was a resident of Masham, and we were extremely happy and relieved to know that she was next in line and fully pre-registered for a place in the CHSLD in Masham, as we had heard nothing but glowing reviews of this residence from staff and families alike.

In regard to Villa des Brises, it is a private residence but the second floor of this facility, where my mother was transferred, is governed by the CISSS and used as a transition residence for citizens who are waiting for spots in public facilities for which they have met placement criteria or who require rehabilitation before returning home. We were assured when mom was transferred to this facility, 40-plus kilometres from our home, that she would receive the care that she required as though she were in a CHSLD. We put our faith and trust in the public system and the consequences were tragic.

I agree that family members must be vigilant when a vulnerable loved one is in a care facility.  When my mother was in the short-term wing of the Wakefield Hospital, we were able to visit with her every single day. As my wife and I – mom’s care team of two – are not fully retired and our youngest is still in high school, circumstances dictated that we could only visit mom four to five days per week. It is agonizing to think that we should or could have done more to keep her safe from harm. 

We are not shying away from speaking up. Within the first couple of weeks of mom’s transfer to the Villa des Brises, we wrote a letter to our MNA Robert Bussière, imploring him to step in, as we felt that she was in an unsafe environment that was ill-equipped to support a frail elderly person with dementia. MNA Bussière’s office simply redirected us to the bureaucratic complaints labyrinth. As I write this letter, we have yet to receive a response from the Commissaire aux Plaintes, step one in a multi-phase complaint process.

We are speaking out and will not let up until we have assurances that the troubling circumstances we experienced in this publicly-governed facility will be addressed and corrected. This will come too late to help my mother, but if we can ensure that nobody else’s loved one [is] subjected to indifference and neglect in this facility, this agonizing journey will have been worth it.

Guy Maisonneuve is a resident of Masham, QC.

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