Thursday, June 09, 2011

Beacon Home Support, (Victoria B.C).: Where ‘Care’ becomes ‘Callous’

“Who do you want?” The voice at the end of the central line asked irritated (250.658.6407).

Beth: “The supervisor’s manager please, I’d like to make a complaint.”

“They aren’t here.”

B: “Um, yes they are, it is ten minutes until end of shift (4:50 pm). I’m naked, I’m on the floor, I need oxygen, I haven’t water or food, nor have I had care for two days. I’d like to make a complaint.”

“(sigh) They are here, but they don’t want to talk to anyone, they are off soon.”

“Who DO I talk to about complaints”

(pause) “I’ll put you through”

CLICK “You have reached the voice mail of Beacon Community Services, please input the four digit number of the person you are trying to talk to…or press zero to return”

(different voice), “Hello”

B: “Hello, I called to make a complaint but was put into the voicemail system, can I please speak to a manager.”

“They have all gone home.”

B: “It is 4:55 and they were there five minutes ago.”

(long pause), “They don’t take calls after 4:30”

“I am naked. Naked. I haven’t eaten in two days. The worker (temp as regular is on vacation) didn’t come yesterday.”

“Hold on……”

Night RN: “Hello?”

“Hi, My name is Elizabeth McClung and I’m naked and on the floor, I have no water, I have had no water, I am desperate.”

Long pause, “Elizabeth….you had care today.”

“Yes, and though I asked and asked, she didn’t give me water…or food…or panties. In fact I spent a 33 minute conversation with a manager there about it. Do you know who that was?”

“No. This is the night nurse, I can’t do anything for you.”

“I’m helpless, I have had no water, which my condition requires, no oxygen though it was asked for repeatedly, and no food, and I’m naked. NAKED.”

“No, you’ve had your care. I could send someone to you.”

Beth: “Thank you.”

Night RN: “…except you are three hours over for this month.”

B: “I am over for the month coming up?”


“How can I be ‘over’ for care for the next three weeks of care I haven’t even gotten? Can’t you take some off.”

Night RN: “That is not Policy.”

B: (desperately) “Did you count that worker that NEVER CAME yesterday? And the worker that had two manager calls on them today? The one who didn’t give water?”

Night RN: “No, you had care today.”

I start to talk but am cut off as she continues, “I’m the night RN, I can’t discuss policy.”

B: “So should I tell emergency that ‘Beacon sent me?’”

RN confused: “What do you mean.”

B: “When I call 911, do you want me to tell them that ‘Beacon Home Services told me call.’”

RN: “But it isn’t an emergency.”

B: “I am end stage with a neuromuscular disease, with no oxygen, and I have had no food or water for two days, I’m stuck naked on the floor and according to you and the manager I want to complain about, I’ve HAD ‘care’.”

RN: “Can you hold on?”

B: “YES!

15 minutes later, Linda comes over, and put on the oxygen, and asks me what I am doing. I try to tell her, she gets the drift. After finding out how long I’ve been on hold she says, “I’ll call them on the cell phone, they sometimes just put you on hold if they want to get rid of you.”

Beth: “No. Really?”

Linda gets through, “Hello, my partner Elizabeth McClung called you 15 minutes ago, can you tell me where you are in regards to resolution of that issue? Oh?”

The never ending hold music suddenly ends, and the night RN is back, “I’m going to try to connect you with someone.” She says and leaves me wondering what she was doing before.

I finally connect to Supervisor Rational. In fact that’s what I say, “Thank you! You’re the Rational one.”

I had talked to two supervisors, one when the care worker was there for an hour, a new and temp worker (as I was still naked, I had no water and no food, nor did it look like I was going to get a bed transfer and after five asking for water to which she said yes, no water), and the second when she refused to leave or help but OCD’d on washing the same dish over and over again (which I think might be why she is available for filling in for vacation shifts). This was the first supervisor, who had told her to get me water, food and clothes, and authorized extra time. I explained that she didn’t, but would just keep washing over and over again, and when I called in to report this I was threatened by the Beacon supervisor who said ‘Now dishes has been a reoccurring problem, you aren’t asking her to do dishes used by Linda?”

“No,” I told her, “I asked her NOT to do the dishes, the note Linda left asked her NOT to do the dishes, I need WATER, it hot day after day and I haven’t had water for two days, or care, I need water.”

Wacko Supervisor: “It still seems that the dishes are a problem though.”

B: “Has ANYONE made a complaint of dishes? I know of only one complaint of dishes THREE YEARS ago, and you saw my apartment, I have exactly 26 inches of counter space…how many dishes is that?”

Wacko Supervisor: “Yes, three years, an on-going problem.”

Beth: “Water?”

The next 33 minutes were spent with the supervisor reading my care plan which says lines like “please do not rip chunks of hair out of Client’s scalp when brushing”, and asking me where the care plan was, then going into a panic because it is in a red holder on the fridge when the folder is yellow. There was much furious typing about whether it was at ‘eye level’ or not. Care? No. But I passed out so I guess that is how the call ended, as I have no memory.

Rational Supervisor: “So she didn’t get you any of those things?”

B: “No. I asked for panties three times, but no go, water five. No, no food or water, or clothing assist or oxygen.”

“We’ll make sure never to send her again.”

B: “Yes, but again, now past 5:30, no food, no water, and no one yesterday.” I pointed out that when Beacon came to force me to sign waiver on all task 2 for workers (like if they give me triple the amount of drugs and kill me, they aren’t liable – if you don’t sign it, you don’t get care), I got a signature from them which accepted all liability for task 1, which includes food, water, oxygen, dressing, showers, etc. How did they want to pay? In court? With VIHA? Or could I get someone to HELP ME.

By this time I was exhausted and Linda took over. The individual was to call her back by 7:20, so she could get a nap. He called later and then asked if I was lying, “We are having some inaccuracy in reports.” Well, yes because when I told the worker after almost two hours that the manager wanted to talk to her, she opened the fridge instead and took out the water and said she had been trying to get me water. Linda confirmed that no, no one had come yesterday and that I was paralyzed all day due to the pain and heat locking my nerves and muscles and could just lie in bed in pain for 27 hours, not even sleeping. And that she had found that the worker had taken the note, folded it and put it aside, including the writing on it, “Do NOT do dishes”. Wacko Supervisor had earlier been obsessed with the fact that she didn’t have a copy of the note, can that I fax to her.

“Well, I’m on the floor…”

Wacko S: “I’ll try and get it from the case manager….”

It has been rather up and down here, if up means down and then further down. I didn’t think anything could be worse than those hours lying there, unable to cool off enough to sleep, in extreme pain. Not able to drink Tuesday, I was desperate to drink on Wednesday, if only the worker knew how to pour water. Am I dehydrated? Check. Have I not eaten a meal since Monday? Check. (Linda did break three small lemon cookies into my mouth, and watched to make sure I didn’t choke on them, at 4:00 am Wednesday Morning, as I couldn’t use my arms or hands). Are my fingertips purple, and hands dusky with the last two fingers purple to dark blue/black? Check.

How do you avoid this from happening if you are alone as I am most days? Check into a facility EXCEPT not just EVERY worker but others who get care from Beacon say, “Do NOT check into a facility…if you want to live.”

Why then could not Beacon Home Support send someone over to do what the person was sent to do, help me get in bed, get water and food? Because according to them, the worker HAD been sent, and if they didn’t do the tasks, as the Wacko Supervisor and RN Night said, “That is something we look into and get back to you?”

Beth: “When? Like Tomorrow, two days, three days? How many days until I can get underwear?”

Previously, when asking the Executive Assistant of Beacon Home Support of the CEO Isobel Mackenzie (also trustee for the Victoria School Board, so enjoy..) if ANY worker had been let go for incompetence, she said she was unaware of a single incident. Wacko Supervisor had told me that if my workers couldn’t understand me or English, to have them call her. Which begs two questions: why send workers who can’t understand English to a residence with all notes in English and two, how am I supposed to tell them to call her?

Because Beacon is subcontracted by VIHA, a government body, even though Beacon Care is the ONLY care support for the City, there is no way to make an official complaint. As only those in VIHA can have a complaint done against them (though due to backlog, the 30 day required has been stretched to six months or longer for a reply). So there is no complaint system in place at Beacon. And though it is requirement on paper that VIHA not Beacon if annual ‘satisfaction’ surveys are not done payment should not be made to Beacon. But none have been done as long as I have been able to find anyone receiving or giving care. The Manager at Beacon said it was ‘due to cost’.

When the file for a person with a known late stage neuro-muscular illness (they were aware of my status in the limbo of entry into pallative care – requiring letters from many people away on vacation) shows up and they say they are on the floor, and haven’t eaten, drunk water, or received the oxygen the condition requires they say they ‘can’t’ send anyone. Why? They ‘project’ my care will be 3 hours over the allotted hours by June 30th, so no one can give me a drink NOW, not until the NEXT care worker comes. And since the worker came then those hours are credited against my hours, whether they worked or not. And it is a policy and no they can’t explain it or discuss it.

The network of family caregivers and those receiving care paint a picture that would result in a class action suit in the USA, as they service over 6,000 ‘clients’. But knowing for example that I need oxygen, the Wacko Supervisor had me talking for 33 minutes until I passed out. The more they talk, the closer to 5:00…..I mean 4:30 and end of shift. While no regular staff is on during evening or night, when the highest amount of medical problems will occur.

I have the strongest feeling against hypocrisy and wonder if Beacon’s parking lot even HAS a blue badge spot (if typical of Victoria that would be a no). However, besides the half dozen thrift stores, several care centers, homes, meals on wheels and all ‘client’ care (but no way to make official complaints?), Beacon now issues the Blue Badges required for parking.

Linda says they don't have Blue Badge spots as they don't like 'Client's visiting the offices. She worked hard to find the parking lot at all.

Beacon also is in charge of Triumph, the 'agency' that is supposed to help those with disabilities find jobs (they don't), but has no contacts, no lists, just the 'behavoir training' written about on the BBC in from subhuman to able bodied (one of many experiences with Triumph, they changed the 'contact' webpage after being linked in the BBC)

Beacon RN’s, managers and supervisors who have forgotten that it is people not numbers, and people who are at their most vulnerable and desperate, need the kind of fiscal spanking and humiliation that they so oft provide (at a cost of $35 an hour) to their clients. The imp in me wishes to get better so that with an outline and a spray paint can of blue they would arrive one day to find no parking… every spot in the lot has magically turned to a blue badge spot.


Dawn Allenbach said...

I'm so angry that I can't even articulate it. Hand and body shaking, tears in my eyes PISSED OFF! Those lousy sons-of-bitches!

wendryn said...

This makes me furious. I'm so sorry you have had to deal with this, and I wish they had some ability or willingness to respond to complaints. I hope somehow you manage to get care out of the, despite the fact that they seem to not be willing to give it.

Tina Russell said...

Wow. “Awful” doesn’t even begin to describe it... that sounds like hell. It’s rotten and it makes me so angry. I don’t know what to say, what makes somebody so cold-hearted that they can’t take the time to give someone food, water, and clothing so they won’t pass out. Maybe they think that if they don’t defer to “policy,” they might have to think about all their heartless misdeeds over the years as their own responsibility.

Grrgrgrhhblhrhglgghh. Blhggghgbghhghgbgbbbb. I’m.... GRAAAAAAH I want to punch something...

Neil said...

Callous? Criminal negligence? Breach of contract?

I wonder if there's some way of letting a BC MLA see your blog entries. But would said MLA care, or believe you?

Angry? Yes, I am, but I'm more just plain disappointed that life isn't changing for the better for you. It's the same story about Beacon and VIHA. It's the sort of story I've come to expect about them.

I love the idea of spraying ALL the parking spots blue. But do people know what that means?

Love and zen hugs, and hopes for improvement,

SharonMV said...

Dear Beth,
I feel such anger towards Beacon for this latest outrage. They seem to be devoid of any scrap of humanity. So sad to think of you lying there without care. Then having to summon up the energy to try to get help. I hope a competent care worker comes soon.
I am sending love to you. I wish I could be there to give you water, food & comfort.


Noisyworld said...

OMG! Ridiculous, just plain ridiculous.
I am too angry to write more.

cheryl g said...

The actions of Beacon are inexcusable. They can't seem to grasp that Caregiver and Caregiving agency mean providing CARE.

The poor quality care and treatment you get angers me, saddens me and sickens me.

Elizabeth McClung said...

I made it up by 11:40 pm, it turns out that fighting for panties takes a toll. Plus we had a air conditioning hiccup and it reset back UP, so on a cool and windy day, it warmed the the apartment higher and put me into heat lock again. (It is funny and surreal when it isn't happening to you, honest).

Dawn: Yes, that was about it for me too, I hate that they leave Linda to clean up their mess (though with her evening meetings, that sometimes means she can't). I hate that they seem in the business of avoiding care. And that they happen to be in charge of Triumph, I couldn't believe it - they are in charge of every low income, health, old age, and dementia facility they can, as it is sure money from government and they can't be made accountable as they are 'subcontracted' - the perfect scheme. I usually keep all things near my chair for this reason but I was out of water. Today, while I slept a worker came and every bottle even the emegency ones are full. Thank goodness for good careworkers, sorry they have to work at a mean company.

Wendryn: The regulars I have are great, but when someone goes on vacation, as happened here, I get the 'left overs' or the workers 'black listed' by everyone else. That they seem to find this a sort of 'acceptable loss' makes me wish I had original energy levels.

Tina: Thanks. It was hell, and very odd phone conversations. I really did think food and water was something standard until recently. Maybe only for prisoners or something (and considering my future in crime, aka vandalism, that could be good perhaps?). I have oft run into the idea of 'it is policy' but never in such a situation, like deciding it is 'policy' not to delivery meals in hospital into the rooms - I know that if this happens to me others suffer, hospitalize or die, since those who die in heat waves are likely all in 'Beacon's Care'

Neil: I think they depend on people NOT living long enough to complain. however I have found they registered with the BBB, and all written complaints with the USA Better Business Bureau are 'disputes' which if not resolved not only downgrade the ranking but also are there permanently for all to see and request. If this is true here, that is what I will pursue.

Sharon: I guess I was lucky that I had to call to have to leave due to her OCD on washing that pot. As otherwise I wouldn't have had a phone to hand. I passed out several times due to lack of oxygen when the worker was there - the Wacko Supervisor gave me a verbal warning as 'You are not supposed to put workers in situations which could be medical emergencies' (I ask for oxygen, they don't give it, I pass out ergo I'm bad?).

Noisyworld: I have a strong strong desire to try and bribe the regulars to not go on vacation is this is the kind of decision making being a manager comes up with.

Cheryl: Yes, they seem to think it is Beacon Community Ass-Covering, or Beacon Community Policy Perfect not CARE.

Baba Yaga said...

If only this *were* incredible...

No water gets very close, mind you. It's not just basic, it requires *no bloody effort*.

But the response - or lack of - is all too typical.

Would it help if we all wrote letters on your behalf? They have to be opened, after all, and in most organisations (including governments) inconveniencing the secretaries tends to be a good way to be made a priority. Of course, one can't guarantee what kind of priority...

You can see what's happened: it's a business first, and a care organisation second, and the clients have become the enemy, forever trying to get that expensive thing, care. & so the staff are bullied into thinking targets and payment and never, ever giving a minutes' care which isn't paid for on more important than doing what they're nominally paid for... and bullied into viewing the world from the top end of power relation, rather than from decency and compassion.

I've had dealings with two care organisations: one was a workers' co-op, and it did its job, so far as I was concerned. Can't speak for severer needs, but - well, there's a very great difference between being a person and being a case file. The other - well, the boss spoke very nice words (if patronisingly touchy-feely is nice, that is), but there was a hierarchy, and it was management first, workers a far-behind second, clients nowhere.

It keeps happening: otherwise decent and sensible people can be duped into insensibility and cruelty by broken systems. The decent and strong-minded enough to resist the dehumanising process tend to leave.

Alex M said...

Sickening. Absolutely sickening.

JaneB said...

Grrrrr!!!! There aren't words to say how angry I am that this can happen.

If there is anyone we can write to, you or Linda or Cheryl will let us know, right??

I do like the idea of the all-blue-badge spaces - even in extremis you manage to come up with something smart and very annoying.

Aviva said...

Grrrr! In the US, there would not only be a class-action lawsuit, there would also be CRIMINAL charges against Beacon and its workers. Is it any use at all to contact the Canadian version of congressmen? (Appalling that I don't know what Canada calls its form of government -- Parliament, like in England??)

So sorry you have to go through all this!!

imascatterbrain said...

I used to be able to toss off the title of the book, or the author of the book...

Horrible maze of bureaucracy?
Battle against sequestered authorities?

I looked here >>>

and I think "The Trial?"

OH, you poor soul...
I wanted to express profound sympathy but then I got sidetracked by the emptiness of my BRAIN...

BEST LUCK TO YOU~~~~~~~~~~~

imascatterbrain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Raccoon said...

I would say that that is typical for a home care nursing agency, but it's even worse!

At least, the ones I used made sure to send me people that spoke English.

"Policy." Bah! And there's no way to take them to court...

Lene Andersen said...

This is a disgrace, but the sad thing is that after all these years of hearing about Beacon and their systematic neglect and abuse of you, I am not surprised. Sad and so angry I'm shaking, but not surprised.

I think you should print a copy of this post and send it to the BC Health Minister. And the biggest newspaper in town. Possibly a national newspaper.

Amberose said...

What is this I don't even...I don't even know what to say! What is WRONG with these people?! When someone is in as dire a situation as you were in, the basic logical thing to do is SEND SOMEONE TO HELP. It's a pretty simple thing! Just...what the hell?!

Kate J said...

Sorry Beth, I somehow 'missed' seeing this post, but have now gone back and read it. Along with the rest of your friends - anyone with any compassion or feelings at all - I am utterly appalled at the lack of any care. Even when a so-called 'carer' has visited you it seems there's precious little caring on offer.
This morning, similar scandals on UK media about 'care' for the elderly and disabled here: very old and vulnerable people are having to 'choose' between being washed or having food, as there isn't time for the 'carer' to offer both. Being left in dirty bedding, going without food and water... I am so angry and disgusted that I cannot speak. Is this the same in every 'civilised' country, I ask myself?
So sorry that I missed commenting on this post before... and sending you all the love and support I can at this distance.
And it's not only the clients who are treated badly: a cousin of mine who works in healthcare (in Alberta), having booked her 'holiday of a lifetime', and scheduled her time off, months in advance, was then told she'd have to take her time as 'unpaid leave' because she had accrued no holiday entitlement - she has worked for the same healthcare company for 15 years, but 6 months ago the company had a change in ownership and reset the 'clock' on employee contracts.
Care, indeed!
Love & peace

angryme said...

After having the unfortunate task of dealing with them I understand your anger. There is no thought to the clients or their needs. My 91 yr. old Aunt used to ask why they bothered to come? All they do is watch tv and push papers. No one would vacuum, dust, change the litter box or anything. Not allowed to was what we were told. But at the end of life those are the things you need help with. And to send a male to a 91 Yr. old unmarried women's house to bath her is Not acceptable. Guess they forget that they will get old in time and someone who just wants a paycheque will look after them. No care at all. I would send your complaint to the times colonist,then i could send my letter in about how many catered lunches i made for VIHA while working at a High end catering company. Glad you have your lovely wife to care for you.

Anonymous said...

There is so very little hope for us as a community, a society, if we continue to allow the powers that be to turn away from the truth of their responsibility.

If the Ministry of Health has no way of monitoring the culpability of the agencies that they contract. We all need to start worrying.

Beacon Home Support is just such an agency. An agency that couldn't run 2 island districts let alone the 5 that they were awared! Some of us who work in the field shuttered to think what would happen when they won that contract.

As a private caregiver, government assisted relief care from "Beacon" has been the bane of my professional life. Not to mention the lives of the people whose only option is to rely on their help.
Your letter is just one of many such situations that I have personally witnessed, and heard about from other workers whose integrity I respect.

Any agency whose mandate chiefly pertains to middle-management positions and wages, that hires the least expensive imported/indentured labor to care for our elders, let alone the hundreds of disabled people in our care, Must Be Held Accountable . . .

No one is paying attention. I guess we need to get louder.