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Court upholds policy that doctors must refer patients for assisted death

Elizabeth Payne, The Ottawa Citizen

In what is being called a “victory for patients’ rights,” an Ontario court has ruled that all doctors — including those who object for religious reasons — must refer patients for medically assisted death. The ruling on Wednesday from the Ontario Superior Court was in response to a constitutional challenge led by the Christian Medical and Dental Society and five physicians, including Ottawa’s Dr. Agnes Tanguay. The challengers, who are conscientious objectors to medical assistance in death, argued that the policy of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario forcing them to refer patients violates their charter rights. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario recognizes a physician’s right to conscientiously object to medically assisted death, but says they must “effectively refer” patients to someone who can assess the patient and perform assisted death if required. The court ruled Wednesday that the policy is not unconstitutional, saying it effectively protects patients who request medically assisted death from being abandoned by physicians who are opposed to it. The court decision is being called a victory for patients by the advocacy group Dying with Dignity Canada. “We believe the effective referral policy strikes a fair, sensible balance between a physician’s right to conscience or moral objection and a patient’s right to care,” said the organization’s CEO Shanaaz Gokool. “Patients not only have a legal right to a peaceful death in Canada, but they have the right to trust that their physician will help them navigate an already confusing system.”

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Crying out for care

Marketplace, CBC

In a special year-long investigation, Marketplace uncovers a shocking rise in the number of abuse incidents inside Ontario long term care homes.  We obtain exclusive security video of a brutal attack between two residents unfolding in the hallways of Baycest, a Toronto nursing home. And we head inside homes with some of the highest rates of abuse to see for ourselves why the statistics are on the rise; and follow families fighting for better care. In Ontario, reported rates of abuse have doubled in just 6 years. Every single day, 9 residents are harmed by another resident; and 6 are harmed by staff who are supposed to care for them.

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Daughter of slapped dementia patient angry at police

BBC News, UK

The daughter of an elderly dementia patient slapped by her carer said she is angry the woman only received a police caution. Sabina Marsden, 78, was also told she “stinks” by the carer, who was unaware she was being filmed. Mrs Marsden’s daughter Gina Owen said she was “furious”. Employer Mega Care said it was “appalled and disgusted”. Northamptonshire Police said safeguarding vulnerable people was a “high priority”. Mrs Owen said she had only installed the camera in her mother’s home shortly before the incident on 13 June 2017. She said it happened within ten minutes of her monitoring the video. “Mum didn’t provoke it. Mum can’t talk. She couldn’t hit back,” Mrs Owen said. “I left work and then we came down to the house. I felt physically sick. I never thought it would happen in my mum’s home. “The police have done the interview and she only got a caution. I’m angry about that and I’m not happy about the outcome.”

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Minneapolis facility neglected resident who remained down 10 hours after fall and later died

ABC 5 Eyewitness News, Minneapolis, MN

An assisted living facility in south Minneapolis has been found negligent after staff allegedly failed to check on a resident who had fallen and remained on the floor of her room for about 10 hours. Though the resident suffered no fractures, she was unable to walk again, her health declined, she was later hospitalized, and she died 26 days after the fall, according to an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health. The health department found the facility, Ebenezer Home Care, at 2722 Park Ave. S., negligent in her death. “We strive to provide the best possible quality of care at all Ebenezer senior living communities,” a spokesperson for Fairview Health Services, which owns the facility, said in an emailed statement. “While privacy regulations prevent us from discussing any specific incident, the health and safety of our residents is always our highest priority. Whenever we become aware of an issue at any of our communities, we investigate promptly, look for ways to improve and take appropriate actions as the circumstances warrant.”  According to the investigative report, the woman, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, coronary artery disease and Raynaud’s Disease, fell about 11 p.m. on August 15. Despite a care plan that required staff to check on her at midnight and 7 a.m., and despite facility rules that all residents are checked on at 3 a.m., the staff on duty did not check on the resident, the report says.

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Expanded Bruyère geriatric day hospital helps seniors remain in their homes

Elizabeth Payne, The Ottawa Citizen

When 88-year-old Mary LaCroix tripped over her walker, breaking her femur and hip last fall, she thought her independent life was over. “I thought that was it.” Today, LaCroix is beginning to walk again, with the help of staff at Bruyère’s John and Jennifer Ruddy Geriatric Day Hospital, and is on her way to resuming her busy, independent life. Keeping people such as LaCroix autonomous and active in the community is the goal of the facility where an extensive renovation was unveiled Wednesday. Officials say the day hospital, which currently sees 5,000 visits a year, will now be able to treat more patients in the new state-of-the-art facilities. LaCroix, petite and positive, is part of a demographic that represents one of the biggest challenges facing Ontario’s health care system — the frail elderly. Helping them to stay in their homes as long as possible and out of hospital beds or chronic care beds is a goal of the entire health system.

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