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‘Operating on fear’: Ottawa woman speaks out about impact of new nursing home law

Seniors are speaking out about the impacts of a new Ontario government bill aimed at freeing up bed space in hospitals by potentially moving patients far from their preferred destinations.

They say the bill is already taking a toll on many families.

Ontario’s Bill 7 means seniors can be placed in a home within 70 kilometres, even if it is not on their preferred list, or pay hundreds of dollars to stay in hospital. For an Ottawa woman, her family and caregiver, it means a move they did not want to make but felt they had no choice.

"Help," that is the message from Deana Henry, who recently moved from hospital to a long-term care home.

"We were operating on fear, and didn't have time to make decisions. The bed was offered at 1 on the Thursday and the decision had to be made," said Mary Sinclair, who has been Deana Henry’s caregiver for several years.

Extendicare West End Villa was not one of her preferred locations. However, Bill 7 – Ontario’s More Beds, Better Care Act, didn’t leave her much choice.

"If she didn’t take the bed that was offered here at West End Villa, she could be moved to a facility that was up to 70 km away from family and from me, and the family wasn't willing to accept that risk," Sinclair said.

Deana, 62, has Multiple Sclerosis and severe diabetes. A vocal advocate for seniors and people with complex medical needs, she strongly opposes the province’s new bill, but was unable to express herself on the day of this interview due to her condition.

"She has more pain, she's more stressed, more anxious, more frustrated," Sinclair said. "To hear her cry because she's in pain, and it's simply because of the move, it affects her physical and mental health."

Other advocates have also been highly critical of Bill 7.

"Not only is it unfair, it's immoral and I wish these politicians would spend a month in these long-term care homes and see what's going on. It's atrocious, it's an abomination and people deserve better than that in their dying days," said Lorraine Laframboise, a seniors' and vulnerable population advocate.

Laframboise spent over 20 years working and volunteering with seniors and vulnerable people. She’s worried now about what she calls a declining health care system, and what it means for her and her husband.

"Every day, we do not have children so our support system is our friends, and they're in their 70s, they won't be able to take care of us,” said Laframboise.

For those like Henry impacted already by the province's new plan, a call for action and change to a policy that has them feeling unheard and forgotten.

"She feels like a piece of furniture just being moved around, without concern about their physical, mental or emotional health," Sinclair said.

In a statement to CTV News, Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-term Care says the policy was designed to “free up hospital beds” and that “a hospital is not a home.” Top Stories


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