Bullying of Visitors in Care Facilities Must Stop

Yesterday Albertans wore pink to stand up against bullying, but today's story released by Public Interest Alberta about visitors being banned from seeing loved ones in care facilities revealed some serious examples of how much work there is left to do

"The ability of seniors care facilities and other health facilities to ban, or threaten to ban, people from seeing their loved ones without due process is a systemic form of bullying, and it is the government's responsibility to ensure it is stopped," said Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. "It is unacceptable that this situation is happening in a place like Alberta."

Stories coming from impacted families show that bans and intimidation often occur immediately after the family asks the care facility for accountability around quality of care, medication, and treatment issues.

"For any perceived slights and infractions, however minor, or even when asked inconvenient questions, health care and residential care facilities apparently have full authority, without accountability to anyone, to restrict or ban visitors from seeing their loved ones," stated Azocar.

No evidence is required, and no means of appeal is available other than the long, winding route of filing complaints with bureaucratic committees. When individuals have concerns they must first contact a member of the care team, often the physician in charge. If concerns are not addressed then people can go to the AHS Patient Relations Department followed by a complaint to the Alberta Ombudsman. The ban remains in place throughout these processes, and ultimately the facility administration are the only people with the power to lift a ban.

"Albertans have a right to ask questions regarding the well-being of their loved ones," indicated Azocar. "We have a right to get timely resolutions to concerns that impact the overall well-being of a family member. The government has a responsibility and a duty to investigate and stop seniors care facilities and other health facilities from continuing on this disturbing trend. They must respect the rights of families to play a role in the care of their loved ones."