Stuck in bed ‘soaked up to his neck’ Winnipeg man with quadriplegia angry with unreliable home care
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/09/2022 (201 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Winnipeg man with quadriplegia has been left in bed unable to move for more than a day on several occasions because the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority can’t always get a home care aide to him.
Patrick Dram, 61, said he is either forced to stay in bed the entire day or sleep overnight in his wheelchair depending on when the aide doesn’t show up.
It also means his urinary catheter, which needs to be checked by an aide during two separate appointments during the day, can go unmonitored for more than a day.
“I feel frustrated more than anything, I guess,” Dram said on Tuesday, sitting in his wheelchair.
“I hate to say I’m angry, but they just don’t seem to be trying enough to schedule people for me.”
Dram said during the long weekend, after being put into bed on Thursday night, the WRHA didn’t send an aide to him until Sunday morning.
“Thankfully, I came in contact with a retired health care aide and she said she would help me when I’m stuck, but I have to pay her,” he said.
“It stopped me from staying in bed for 40 hours.”
Thomas Linner, provincial director of the Manitoba Health Coalition, said his organization fields many complaints from people upset about the province’s home care system.
“The majority of calls I get are from people concerned about their loved ones in personal care homes, but the next rung of calls is about home care,” he said.
”The majority of calls I get are from people concerned about their loved ones in personal care homes, but the next rung of calls is about home care.” – Thomas Linner
Linner said it’s nothing new, noting the WRHA said earlier this summer that in April almost 27,000 home care appointments were cancelled, a 166 per cent increased from April 2021.
“It’s up to the government to answer to these concerns and make the (needed) investments to return to what used to be the gold standard of home care in Canada.”
Until August 2021, Dram was healthy, worked as a vehicle painter at Motor Coach Industries, and had bought a home in Lac Du Bonnet, where he planned to spend his retirement years fishing and being outdoors.
Then he slipped while entering his house as he wore slip-on rubber shoes.
“My shoes were wet,” he said. “It was a hot day and we had an above-ground pool. I was dripping wet. The foot slipped out of the shoe and I just fell forward into the door jamb.
“I wasn’t knocked out. I’m lying on the floor and I didn’t know what’s wrong. I couldn’t move. You think it will be something temporary. I could only move my eyes and a doctor said that’s all I’ll ever be able to do.” – Patrick Dram
“I wasn’t knocked out. I’m lying on the floor and I didn’t know what’s wrong. I couldn’t move. You think it will be something temporary. I could only move my eyes and a doctor said that’s all I’ll ever be able to do.”
Today, Dram can do more than that, but he needs a lot of help. He can move his head, he can move his arms about 40 per cent, and he can use a special fork to bring some types of food to his mouth to eat. But his fingers are clenched into fists and he can’t move anything below his arms.
Dram is living with his parents, but they can’t give him all the help he needs. His dad is 93 and has dementia while his mother is 83 and uses a wheelchair, at times.
“I need help every day,” he said. “I actually have very little bad to say about the aides themselves. Most of them are caring.
“But nobody at the WRHA plans for anyone to fill in. The workers can be 0.6 or 0.7, (part-time) and looking for full-time work, yet nobody calls them to fill in. I don’t think they want them to be full-time because then they would have to pay benefits.”
WRHA spokeswoman Bobbi-Jo Stanley insisted “the vast majority of home care visits are provided as scheduled.
“Every effort is made to maintain home care visits however, some cancellations will be inevitable. Where service cancellations occurred, they are more frequently initiated by the client as opposed to the WRHA home care office.”
Stanley said cancellations do go up on weekends because of unplanned staffing absences and people are given as much notice as possible and told to have their backup plans ready.
“Efforts to reduce vacancies in the home care program continue to be focused on improving recruitment, training and orientation processes for all positions,” she said.
“Work is ongoing to ensure that we are able to reduce vacancies, while continuing to provide safe, high-quality home care to our clients that need it.”
But Dram’s sister, Lorna Dram-Kozielec, said she — and not the WRHA — sees what happens when an aide doesn’t show up to help her brother.
“He is soaked up to his neck in urine — and sometimes even worse,” Dram-Kozielec said.
“He now has bed sores on his ankles. This is inhumane.”
“He now has bed sores on his ankles. This is inhumane.” – Lorna Dram-Kozielec
Dram-Kozielec said she and her two brothers were already helping to look after their aged parents, and now she and her brother must assist Patrick.
“There has been so much talk about nursing homes and taking proper care of patients, yet nothing is said for the ones at home,” she said.
“I thought the idea was to keep people at home for as long as possible because nursing homes are full and cost taxpayers more. What can we do?
“We are desperate.”
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.