Why do we allow warehousing of the vulnerable?


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At first glance, the proposal seems entirely counter intuitive. Let an absentee owner off the hook and reach out to the community instead for their help and support.
But, that is exactly the tact lawyer Elena Dempsey is proposing to turn things around at Walnut Manor — an independent supportive living home operated by Niagara Supportive Living in Welland.
The Times-Journal has already run a couple of stories on the plight of 14 residents in the home who are served up meals described by Dempsey as appalling not appealing.
A situation that generated enough concern Elgin St. Thomas Public Health shut the kitchen down for three days earlier this month.
Dempsey is hoping local businesses and concerned citizens can assist with food donations in the short term in order to pressure the home owners into cleaning up their act.
Dempsey doesn’t mince her words.
“This owner has to get a mindset review,” she asserts. “He has to recognize when he comes into a community, you start to develop relationships with the community.
“If we could get local produce; if they start to donate stuff then maybe once we get this owner on track he could start setting up contracts with people.”

Dempsey advises this is likely a more productive approach than pressure through legal action.
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“I could bring legal proceedings, but to what end? It’s a blunt instrument the law. It takes time and what we could end up with is this guy shutting down. Our goal is not to do that. Our goal is to work with him if he would only be honest and admit to the deficiencies and then work toward a viable, affordable way of getting a standard for people that is not warehousing.”
Introduce a ray of sunshine into the lives of residents who have little in the way of cheer from day to day.
“Could someone donate two big tubs of ice cream a week. Can we get someone to donate a cake once a month so we can celebrate each person’s birthday. We can acknowledge the existence and joy of people’s lives.
There are so many resources out there and I’m hoping this will galvanize people and get the ball rolling.”
It’s just one home and a handful of residents, but to Dempsey those individuals deserve, at the very least, the enjoyment of three palatable meals every day.
If you can assist in any way, email this corner at the address below or call Elena Dempsey at Elgin-Oxford Legal Clinic in St. Thomas, 519-633-2638, ext. 214.

WEIGHING IN
The revelation earlier this week Elgin St. Thomas Public Health has quietly been handing out free crack pipes to drug users has sparked passionate debate on the T-J website and Facebook page.
Dozens of readers are staunchly defending their point of view on whether this pilot project — part of the health unit’s Safer Inhalation Program — embraces the organization’s harm reduction philosophy or simply enables drug addicts.
Reader John St. Nicholas applauds the initiative.
“It’s an exchange program. They’re popping up all over the country and do a great job reducing health care costs by preventing diseases. They also help provide information to addicts on treatment programs so they can kick their habits. Overall these programs are win-win. For the record, they’ve also been proven not to enable addicts.”
Amy Hill concurs.
“Getting addicts into a place like the health unit for free paraphernalia is a good thing. It gets them in the door and in contact with front line out reach workers and it exposes them to literature on getting help so some day, when they are ready, they will know where to go for help to quit. And if they don’t quit (because we all know there will always be addicts) it will reduce the burden on the health care system because it’s a harm reduction method which reduces chances of people spreading diseases. This is a positive thing.”
Lindsay Leanne Worrall shares that sentiment.
“I think this is a great idea, it’s better for the sick individuals that need them to be able to get and use the proper tools they need. They will use dangerous, less effective or harmful tools like homemade pipes with sharded glass, tools infected with disease-causing bacteria.”
However, there are at least two sides to every debate as Jennifer Lewis notes.
“Bottom line is this is a pathetic way of “helping people” with an addiction to crack. Offer them a free lunch along with a documentary on the effects of crack on the body.”
Adam Howie feels the program is far from proactive.
“Enabling drug addicts is not proactive. It’s defeating the purpose of having counsellors to rehabilitate drug addicts.”
Julie N Mike Brown write, “How about enough food to feed our homeless or diapers for abused womens shelters? Disgusting.”

POINT TO PONDER
The City of London this week took a page out of the St. Thomas municipal playbook.
With former mayor Joe Fontana shamed out of office, long-time councillor Joni Baechler won the battle to fill the vacant seat.
With Baechler’s ward seat now vacant, did council select the top runner-up in the 2010 municipal vote to assume the position?
Why would they when they have a popular veteran like Russ Monteith to fill the void and he was a near-unanimous choice of council.
Don’t hear any grumbling in the Forest City that the process of filling the vacant position was a travesty of democracy.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“It’s time local health care organizations got back to basics and focused on the prompt, effective and efficient delivery of service to their customers.”
Reader Ted Uffen in a letter to the editor on the official opening of the new home for Elgin St. Thomas Public Health.

City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to ian.mccallum@sunmedia.ca.

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