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Cycling without Age: How a Danish bike fan brought pedal power to the elderly

Blair Crawford, The Ottawa Citizen

Even Ole Kassow thought he was crazy when he showed up unannounced at a Copenhagen nursing home on a three-wheeled rickshaw bike and offered to take anyone who wanted for a bike ride. Five years later, Cycling without Age is a worldwide phenomena, operating in 38 countries, including Canada, with the help of more than 10,000 volunteers. Total up the number of kilometres Kassow’s volunteer rickshaw “pilots” have pedalled their elderly passengers, and you have a journey three times around the world. “For me, cycling is part of my life. It’s part of what makes me happy,” Kassow said Wednesday as a keynote speaker at the Humanizing Health Care International Conference at the Fairmont Château Laurier. Kassow would often cycle past the nursing home on his way to work and saw residents sitting outdoors but immobile. One day, he borrowed the rickshaw and showed up at the desk with his offer. His first passenger was Gertrude, an elderly resident who asked him to pedal her down to the Copenhagen harbourfront. On the way she told Kassow about raising her family in Greenland and sailing to Denmark with her children for summer holidays.“When I came back I said, ‘That was amazing. All the stories I heard.’ And the staff said to me, ‘But Gertrude doesn’t talk …

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Local connection to the story: Bruyère Continuing Care has two of the $9,000, Danish-built rickshaws in use at its Elisabeth Bruyère Hospital in downtown Ottawaand its Saint-Louis Résidence in Orléans.

“My mother was let down”:
The failings behind the unexplained death of Violet Lucas

Gary Dimmock, Drake Fenton, The Ottawa Citizen

Violet Lucas conquered more than her fair share of hardship. After escaping an abusive husband, she raised seven children on her own. She had only a Grade 10 education and when her children were old enough, she learned a trade and got a job in a factory. She stretched a dollar, shopped from the dented-tin bin, sewed and knitted what she could and made all the birthday cakes. She sacrificed, and made sure her kids, all seven of them, had what they needed — even hockey and her famous roast beef. But her best life lesson was instilling in her children the value of a good, formal education — something she never had. She didn’t want them to struggle like she had. The long-term care home and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that oversees the home have little to say. Her family is in the dark and has been provided few details. Months after her death, they await the results of a coroner’s investigation.  Lucas’s death comes at a time when the quality of care at nursing homes in Ottawa is under scrutiny. Following Citizen reports of abuse and neglect at three of the four homes operated by the City of Ottawa, investigations and reviews of city-run homes were launched. But Lucas died in a privately-run facility, which will not fall under the scope of the city’s investigations. Extendicare Laurier Manor is one of 23 other homes in Ottawa not run by the city — and not under a spotlight. And a spotlight is what Lucas’s family wants. Because while it might be unclear how she died, what is clear is that she was failed, not by her family, but by those paid to look after her. A series of failings by the home, detailed in provincial inspection reports, reveal, in part, what went wrong the night of her death. 

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Extendicare Laurier Manor site of another death following reported patient abuse

Drake Fenton, The Ottawa Citizen

The long-term care home where Violet Lucas was found dead in April was the site of another recent unexplained death following the abuse of a resident by a support worker who had a history of disciplinary action. As detailed in Tuesday’s Citizen, Lucas was found in her room at Extendicare Laurier Manor with her head wedged between her mattress and her bed railing, her body slumped down on the floor. The circumstances surrounding her death remain unexplained and her family continues to wait for the results of a coroner’s investigation. But one year before Lucas died, the home was reviewed by a Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care inspector following the death of a person only known as “resident #001”. The case, as outlined in the provincial inspection reports, raises more questions than it answers and illustrates how such reports — meant to publicly document failings at long-term care homes — paint incomplete pictures. The incident led to the home’s being cited six times for non-compliance with provincial legislation and the ministry report said the home “failed to ensure resident #001 was protected from abuse.”

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Care home issues legal warning to family after post showing injured pensioner goes viral

Joanna Morris, Reporter, The Northern Echo, Darllington, UK

A care home operator is threatening a family with legal action after a social media post about their injured relative went viral. The post resulted in threats being made against staff at Thornaby’s Woodside Grange after the family of 90-year-old Johnny Frank published a photograph showing injuries he suffered following a suspected fall. Mr. Frank, who has dementia, and was in the home for a spell of respite care, was rushed to hospital after being found with head injuries by staff following the unwitnessed incident of Friday, September 22. A spokesman for the home said staff immediately called and kept the pensioner’s family informed. However, shortly afterwards his granddaughter in Australia took to Facebook and accused staff of not doing enough to clarify the circumstances which caused him to be injured.

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Compassion is not a “system”, nursing care not a set of rules

Kelly Egan, Ottawa Citizen

So, inevitably perhaps, we are going to have an outside investigation into “systemic” failures at Ottawa’s four municipally-run nursing homes. Why? Can someone tell me what kind of “system” prevents a personal care worker from asking a disabled woman, 85, with memory problems: “Why is it taking you so long to die?” Human beings are capable of monstrous behaviour, even those, evidently, trained to be care workers for the vulnerable. What kind of “system” would weed out a worker with a lack of empathy? How does a “system” know when the compassion reserves are empty for the month, or for all-time? How does a “system” know when a passionate, fresh-faced care provider has grown into an embittered, late-career, sack of anger? These are not holes in a system, these are failures of the heart. How do you “train” someone not to think, let alone utter, hideous things? (Let us not be as gloomy as a recent Twitter chirper who said “humans are garbage” is the explanation for about half the world’s worst problems, like mass ethnic cleansing.)

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