Let’s face it – even if we received the best-of-care, a discharge from the health care facility to our own home is welcomed. For those who remain within the system, the opportunity and access to make decisions about one’s own health care treatments and living arrangements is a right, when capable. We assume that either our choices or our substitute decision maker’s choices will be followed by the system. This may not be the case.
Increasingly stories are shared online or in the media that highlight how difficult health-related decision-making has become. The publications may occur at the allegation stage, before anything has been proven. The stories may or may not be complete or accurate. None-the-less, these stories are important. They demonstrate the importance of determining and conveying our health and social care choices in advance. They show that it is not enough to make choices but also that these choices also need to be conveyed to key people in order to help ensure that they are adhered to even if you are deemed incapable of making a choice. Hopefully these stories motivate us to prepare.
Each of the stories below is at a different stage of resolution. Each is complicated, frustrating and heart breaking for those involved.
Case #1 – Ontario
The husband moves his wife out of long term care (LTC) to their private home where he and a team will care for her. (http://www.mykawartha.com/news-story/4477885-husband-s-removal-of-wife-from-fairhaven-subject-of-hearing/). Leaving the LTC facility was alleged to have been met with substantial resistance by staff. The police were called.
Case #2 – Ontario
The wife wishes to remove her husband who suffered a stroke from an acute care facility. Her concerns seem to be primarily about medications he has been given, without her consent (http://www.seniorsatrisk.org/2013/10/doctors-accused-of-battery-refuse-to-release-hospital-patient/). Rights to discontinue the medications and to leave the facility were challenged.
Case #3 – British Columbia
In disagreeing with the care plan in place for the wife/mother suffering from dementia, the family tries to change the plan or to move their relative to another facility but are blocked (http://www.vancouversun.com/Right+Fraser+Health+says+legal+obligation+spoon+feed+vegetative+patient/8905515/story.html). Part of the problem seems to stem from an inability to understand what the patient’s choice would be in this particular situation.
Case #4 – British Columbia
An elderly couple find that they are not permitted to leave the acute care facility and return to their retirement home residence. Part of the problem seems to be a concern that tehey need more support than is available at their current residence ( http://www2.canada.com/news/bc/elderly+victoria+couple+with+dementia+they+being+held+prisoner+hospital/9702049/story.html?id=9702049 ). One of the concerns seems to be regarding their ability to make this discharge decision and subsequently care for themselves at home.
Image via Pixabay from Jodylehigh