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Who is willing to stand up to defend and assert the human rights of the intellectually disabled?

A tragic wrong occurred when Teresa Pocock was forced into an Ontario long-term care home in 2013 against her will. Despite Teresa’s many remarkable achievements since her release, the Ontario government has refused to admit they made a mistake in declaring her “incapable” and forcing her into a long-term care home. The violation of Teresa’s human rights is critically important because there are many, many “Teresas” all across Canada and in the United States. The National Task Force on Living in the Community stated that over 12,000 Canadian citizens (with developmental disabilities) are living in health related institutions such as senior’s facilities, nursing homes, acute care hospitals, long term care facilities and personal care homes, as opposed to ordinary homes in the community.

Thankfully, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, (BCCLA) and seven signatories are standing with Teresa.

“We believe and support Ms. Pocock’s statements that she did not want to be put into a nursing home.”

In an open letter sent to the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-term Care, the BCCLA is requesting a formal apology to Teresa from the Honourable Eric Hoskins.

“We are gravely concerned that the government, through its actions, appears to condone the forced placement and mistreatment of developmentally-disabled adults.”

The BCCLA, Canadian Association for Community Living, Inclusion BC, Plan Institute, People First of Canada, Spectrum Society for Community Living, Vickie Cammack, and Al Etmanski have all joined together to send a clear message to the Ontario Government: Teresa Pocock’s forced admission to an Ontario long-term care home violated her human rights.

Please join us in calling for an official apology from the Ontario government by signing Teresa’s Change.org Petition and sharing this letter.

July 12, 2016

The Honourable Eric Hoskins, MPP
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
10th Floor, Hepburn Block
80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, ON M7A 2C4

Dear Minister Hoskins:

Re: Teresa Pocock’s forced admission to an Ontario long-term care home violated her human rights

At age 49, Teresa Pocock was forced against her will into an Ontario Long-term Care Home. The traumatic experience shattered her trust and created psychological distress. These events compelled her to leave her home province of Ontario where she was living at the time. She moved to B.C. where she is flourishing as an emerging artist and is also a BCCLA member.

We believe and support Ms. Pocock’s statements that she did not want to be put into a nursing home.

The BC Civil Liberties Association is concerned that the Ministry has violated Ms. Pocock’s rights, which are protected by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Ontario law.

We are gravely concerned that the government, through its actions, appears to condone the forced placement and mistreatment of developmentally-disabled adults. We understand that your ministry conducted a 14-month long investigation into Ms. Pocock’s treatment. We understand that, despite uncovering evidence of institutional wrongdoing, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care produced a report that concluded that government agencies had done nothing wrong. However, Ministry documents obtained under a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FOIPPA”) request suggest that the investigation found indications that the law may have been broken in Ms. Pocock’s case, resulting in a violation of her rights.

The information that has been provided to us about Ms. Pocock’s case strongly suggests that Ms. Pocock’s rights under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms were violated when she was forced into long-term care against her will.

Ms. Pocock’s right to decide where she lives under Article 19 of the Convention was violated when an Ontario social worker conducted her Capacity Assessment without proper consent and against Ms. Pocock’s written legal directions in her 1995 Power of Attorney. Moreover, the evidence that has been provided to us suggests that the social worker falsely indicated on the consent form that he had reviewed Ms. Pocock’s Power of Attorney when in fact he had not done so.

We are deeply troubled by the findings of the Ministry’s investigation. The documents provided to us through the FOIPPA request that were obtained from your Ministry, in our view, support Ms. Pocock’s assertions that she was wrongly deprived of her liberty.

We urge you to issue a formal apology to Ms. Pocock without further delay.

The following individuals and organizations join the BCCLA in calling on the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care to uphold the laws of Ontario and Canada to defend Ms. Pocock’s human rights and liberty.

Sincerely,

Josh Paterson
Executive Director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association

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Michael Bach

Vice-President of the Canadian Association for Community Living

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Faith Bodnar
Executive Director of Inclusion BC

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Tim Ames
Executive Director of Plan Institute

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Kory Earle
President of People First of Canada

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Ernie Baatz
Executive Director, Spectrum Society for Community Living

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Vickie Cammack

 

Al Etmanski

See the PDF copy of the BCCLA letter to Hon. Eric Hoskins:

“Teresa Pocock’s forced admission to an Ontario long-term care home violated her human rights”

DontBelong_NursingHome_Poster

I Don’t Belong in a Nursing Home. I have places to go. Things to do. People to meet.

Please sign Teresa Pocock’s petition

July 23, 2014

With the stroke of a pen, my disabled sister’s human right to decide where she lives was wrongly taken away.

In a heart-breaking move, Teresa who has Down syndrome, was forced against her will into an old-age nursing home, by the Toronto Central CCAC (Community Care Access Centre) and two of my siblings. Four days later, she was rescued by my 91-year old father who was “adamant” he did not want his daughter living in a nursing home. But then the nursing home called the police, in a shockingly callous and bizarre effort to force her back.

Teresa is demanding an apology from these two institutions, the CCAC and the Rekai Centre. This is a sorry mess. Her records show that the crisis list was manipulated to get Teresa to the very top, and placed in the nursing home. Her profile contained false information which made her appear to need 24/7 care. See the presentation I made with Teresa, to the Ontario Government’s Select Committee:

Teresa’s story: Crisis, Capacity and Courage
http://teresapocock.com/capacity-and-courage/

On July 22, 2014, the Ontario Government’s Select Committee published their final report. It states: “Long-term care homes are pressured to accommodate young and middle-aged people with developmental disabilities without any medical need for this type of care or any training to support this group of clients.”

By signing this petition you can help Teresa get an apology for the harm done to her. Teresa is asking the CCAC to apologize for wrongly taking away her human right to decide where she lives. Teresa is asking the Rekai Centre to apologize for calling the police in a completely unnecessary, intimidating and callous attempt to force her back into their institution.

Over three months ago we filed a 12-page complaint with the Ontario Ministry of Health. We have only heard they are “inspecting” the matter.

We need a full apology from both institutions because this is not just about one person — it’s about standing up for and protecting the human rights of all people with disabilities.

Please sign Teresa Pocock’s petition demanding an apology from the CCAC and Rekai Centre at Change.org.

Thank you.

Oh Teresa, the places you’ll go!
Teresa50
And the things you will do.
Brock50Teresa_4429_980
The people you’ll meet.
LifetimeNetworksTeresa_195346_980
Who will cheer you and greet.
TeresaV_Victoria_2589_980
Fifty years young and your life has just begun.
TeresaNYC_4676_980
You’re a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful one.
JulietTeresa

Oh Teresa, the places you’ll go!
Your head in the clouds. Your feet on the ground.
July1_TeresaFranke_0406_980
Your new life at 50 is super fun all way around.
TeresaFerry_1367_980
You’ve zoomed by jet plane, you’ve flown by race-car,
TeresaACticket_0512_980
Your new passport has taken you from near to far.
Teresa_NYC_parade_980
From New York to Washington DC,
Dancing_Washington_0671_980
From Muddy York to the shores of the Salish Sea,
TeresaDancingSalish
With that sparkle in your eye and the skip in your step.
TeresaPowerwalks_4373_980
We’ve just gotta ask…
What were they thinking when they put you in a nursing home?!
It’s no place for YOU! No. No. No.
Teresa at the Rekai Centre Nov 30 2013
For a girl like you who just wants to have fun?!!
CreateYourEscape_0207_980
Fifty years young and your life has just begun. 
You’re a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful one.

Oh Teresa, the things you will do!
You’re power-walking and chicken-dancing,
TeresaHeatherChickenDanceZoo_980
And scootering around town!
TeresaScooter_171123_980
Banking your money,
BankingTD_Teresa
And stretching way up to the sky!
YogaTeresa_6230_980

Oh Teresa, the people you’ll meet!
You have new friends who are green.
TeresaElizabethMay_980
And friends who are wild it’s true!
TeresaWildernessCommittee_980
And friends who shimmer like rainbows.

You have friends who like to spend time

Just dancing with you!

Oh Teresa, the places you’ll go!
The things you will do.
The people you’ll meet.
Fifty years young and your life has just begun.
You’re a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful one.

Congratulations Teresa!

Teresa’s Petition

It has now been more than seven months since Teresa was forced into Long-Term Care, against her wishes, and against the wishes of her father. She is still waiting for an apology from the Rekai Centre, who called the police trying to force her return. Fortunately, her Father secured her release. Teresa is also still waiting for a response from Hon. Dr. Eric Hoskins and the Ontario Government Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care which is “inspecting” the matter.

Teresa needs your support. Please sign Teresa’s petition at Change.org

Just two days after Teresa launched her Change.org petition the Toronto Central CCAC (Community Care Access Centre) has stepped forward with an apology.

Toronto Central CCAC CEO Stacey Daub writes:

Teresa I am very sorry for what has happened to you over the last few months. I apologize for any part the Toronto Central CCAC contributed to this.

If you are willing, I would very much like to meet with you personally to understand your experience with us and to hear your ideas of what we could do to better support individuals and families in situations similar to yours. I would also be interested in hearing how we could support the broader changes that you believe need to happen. Please let me know if you would like to meet.

Stacey

Teresa has responded with this thank you (which she recorded in the video above)

Dear Stacey,

Thank you for your letter. And thanks for the beautiful apology. It was beautiful.

Please ask the Rekai Centre to apologize to us, soon.

Yes, I would like to talk with you. My sister, Franke, will contact you.

Thank you.

Teresa

Teresa’s sister, Franke James, also responded by thanking Stacey and asking four specific questions about the CCAC’s role in Teresa’s forced admission to the Rekai Centre.

Dear Stacey,

Let me thank you for your apology on behalf of the Toronto Central CCAC. We are pleased to see you step forward. This has been — and continues to be — a very difficult time for all of us.

In order to make amends for what Teresa calls “the chaos”, we would like a full acknowledgement detailing “the part” where Toronto Central CCAC has failed — where you think other parties have failed — and what can be done to hold the parties accountable and thus ensure this never happens again.

How can it be right that people get speeding tickets for driving too fast, but there is no penalty for wrongly taking Teresa’s human rights away and placing her in a nursing home? If we had not stepped forward she would still be institutionalized.

It has been a nightmare and torn our family apart — I fear forever. Your clear admission of what went wrong, and who is responsible, will help our family heal. And may help prevent this trauma from happening to others.

We have a lot of questions about what went wrong. Here are four…

1. Why did the CCAC not follow its policy to protect and uphold the human rights of its client, Teresa?

On September 6, the CCAC assessed Teresa as being “incapable” of making personal care decisions, effectively taking away her human rights to decide where she lives and who cares for her. According to CCAC forms, the finding of “Incapacity” can only be made if there is certainty. If there is any doubt, CCAC is supposed to assume the client has capacity. Why, given the conflicting evidence in Teresa’s assessment, did the CCAC assume that Teresa was incapable?

2. Why the heck did the CCAC counsel my siblings how to take away my father’s rights as the primary caregiver for Teresa?

September 3 – Records show that the CCAC was informed that my father would oppose Teresa’s placement in a long-term care home. Because he was the Senior Power of Attorney for Teresa, the CCAC employee suggested that his rights would have to be removed before Teresa could be placed in a long-term care home.

September 10 – Records show that the CCAC interviewed my father and noted that he was “adamant” he did not want Teresa put in a nursing home and would consider litigation to stop it.

September 11 – Records show that the CCAC received a revocation document from my siblings. Despite the fact that this revocation was a direct contradiction to what my father had said to Mark Weitz the day before, it was accepted by the CCAC without question. What’s more, the document was signed by the spouses of the Attorneys, an obvious conflict of interest that renders it legally invalid in Ontario. The CCAC knew the witnesses were spouses of the Attorneys, yet Mr. Weitz accepted the revocation without question.

3. Why did the CCAC ignore what Teresa wanted — and assume her assertions about her own independence were false?

On September 6, in her assessment interview, Teresa stated confidently, “I shower myself”, “I dress myself”. Why did the CCAC case worker immediately reject Teresa’s statements as untrue? (Since Teresa has lived with me for over three and a half months, she has showered herself and always dresses herself.)

Why did Mr. Weitz not do any further investigation in an effort to find out the truth? Instead, he bizarrely used Teresa’s statements of independence as evidence of her ‘insidious cognitive decline’.

On September 6, the records show that Teresa stated several times that she wanted “to stay at the condo” and she wanted “to live with my father”. Why were Teresa’s wishes ignored? Why was a long-term care home even considered, given that Teresa is young and able-bodied?

4. Why did the CCAC ignore my offer to take Teresa into my home? And continue to insist on Teresa’s placement in the Rekai Centre?

November 28: Records show that CCAC was informed by my lawyer that I (as Teresa’s sister) had offered to take Teresa into my home. Why was my offer ignored? It would have opened up a bed for a more needy person.

But the CCAC swept my offer under the rug, and continued with its plan of forced institutionalization. Indeed, when informed that Teresa had been taken out of the Rekai Centre under the care of her father and me, the CCAC recommended calling the police. Why?

For more questions and details, please see my Jan. 21st presentation to the Select Committee on Developmental Services at Queen’s Park:

Teresa’s story: Crisis, Capacity and Courage
http://teresapocock.com/capacity-and-courage/

We are still waiting to hear from the Rekai Centre. Considering that both the CCAC and the Rekai Centre are intertwined in this matter, we will continue to collect signatures and demand a full apology.

Regards,

Franke James

As Franke says, we still waiting for an apology from the Rekai Centre’s CEO, Mary Hoare.

We need your support for Teresa’s petition today asking the Rekai Centre to apologize for the harm they caused Teresa.

Please sign Teresa’s Petition on Change.org

Teresa Pocock is 49 years old and has Down Syndrome. She is asking the CCAC to apologize for improperly taking away her human right to decide where she lives. She is asking the Rekai Centre to apologize for calling the police to force her back into their long-term care home.

To support Teresa’s request for a full apology, please sign her Petition at Change.org.

Video Transcript

My name is Teresa Pocock.
I’m 49 years old. And I am turning fifty.
I am a female.

I have Down syndrome.

Last fall, the CCAC said I couldn’t make my own decisions.
The CCAC said I couldn’t decide where I live or who cares for me.
That was wrong.

It is my human right to decide.
I want the CCAC to say they are sorry.

Then in November, they put me into an old-age nursing home.
The Rekai Centre.
I did not want to be there. I was crying and scared.
So my Daddy signed me out.
And I went back home.

But then the Rekai Centre called the police
Trying to force me to come back.
Fortunately, the police said I was safe with my sister, Franke.

I want the Rekai Centre to say they are sorry.
I want the CCAC to say they are sorry.
It’s my right to decide.

Please sign my petition at change.org
Thank you.

To support Teresa’s request for a full apology, please sign her Petition at Change.org.

By Franke James on Change.org.

Please sign: Teresa’s Petition at Change.org

With the stroke of a pen, my disabled sister’s human right to decide where she lives was wrongly taken away.

In a heart-breaking move, Teresa who has Down syndrome, was forced against her will into an old-age nursing home, by the CCAC and two of my siblings. Four days later, she was rescued by my 91-year old father who was “adamant” he did not want his daughter living in a nursing home. But then the nursing home called the police, in a shockingly callous and bizarre effort to force her back.

Teresa is demanding an apology from these two institutions, the CCAC and the Rekai Centre. This is a sorry mess. Her records show that the crisis list was manipulated to get Teresa to the very top, and placed in the nursing home. Her profile contained false information which made her appear to need 24/7 care. See the presentation I made with Teresa, to the Ontario Government’s Select Committee:

Teresa’s story: Crisis, Capacity and Courage
http://teresapocock.com/capacity-and-courage/

By signing this petition you can help Teresa get an apology for the harm done to her. Teresa is asking the CCAC to apologize for wrongly taking away her human right to decide where she lives. Teresa is asking the Rekai Centre to apologize for calling the police in a completely unnecessary, intimidating and callous attempt to force her back into their institution.

We need a full apology from both institutions because this is not just about one person — it’s about standing up for and protecting the human rights of all people with disabilities.

We are getting traction — 48 hours after we launched this petition, the CEO of the Toronto Central CCAC, Stacey Daub, responded with a public apology to Teresa on change.org. “I apologize for any part the Toronto Central CCAC contributed to this.”

Teresa called the CCAC’s apology “beautiful”, but we have not won yet… The Rekai Centre has not responded. We need the Rekai Centre CEO, Mary Hoare, to offer a full and public apology for the harm they caused Teresa.

The truth is that if we had not rescued Teresa from the nursing home, she would have been living in an institution — with no right to choose otherwise — for the rest of her life. How could this happen in Canada? That’s what Teresa and her supporters want to know.

And Teresa is not the only one being hurt. Developmentally disabled people are routinely being forced into inappropriate “care”.

This is wrong. And it is having a catastrophic effect on the lives of so many people like Teresa.

Please sign our petition to help stop the discrimination against “disabled” people in our health care system.

Please sign Teresa’s petition, because human rights should never be disabled.

MORE DETAILS:

I presented Teresa’s harrowing story to the Select Committee on Developmental Services at the Ontario Legislature. (Teresa was present and consented to her health records being shared.) You can see the slide presentation I made on January 21st, which lays out the full sequence of events.

Teresa’s Story: Crisis, Capacity and Courage
http://teresapocock.com/capacity-and-courage/

Why is there NO accountability?

How could the rights of a developmentally disabled person be removed so easily? Teresa’s story shows how it was done, and why we need to hold the institutions, and those responsible, accountable — so that it does not happen to anyone else.

Teresa’s plight shows that there is NO accountability. This is ironic… If you drive too fast, you’ll get a speeding ticket. If you litter, you can face a hefty fine. But if you incorrectly take away the rights of a person with Down syndrome and place that person in a nursing home, NOTHING happens! There is no penalty and the health care institutions will not even say they are sorry!

After her discharge, Teresa wanted to regain the ‘capacity’ rights that the CCAC had taken away. Teresa wanted to make her own decisions about where she lived and who cared for her. So, in late December and January, Teresa was interviewed and assessed by an expert licensed capacity assessor who determined that Teresa is in fact capable of deciding where she lives.

That was a victory for Teresa! But the shocking fact is — if we had not stepped forward to protect her rights, Teresa would have been living in an institution for the rest of her life. (The group home alternative which miraculously popped up after Teresa’s discharge was no better than the nursing home. She would have been living with four other developmentally disabled people — all of whom were non-verbal, and three of whom were in wheelchairs. Considering that Teresa is able-bodied and very verbal this would not have been the optimum home.)

Teresa’s case shows that our consent and capacity laws are woefully inadequate to protect the rights of the developmentally disabled.

How were Teresa’s rights taken away by the CCAC?

TeresaSlides_Page_15
In a heart-breaking move, my lively 49-year old sister with Down syndrome, was stripped of her human rights and placed in a nursing home where she was surrounded by frail elderly people, many of whom were incapacitated and could not walk, talk or feed themselves.

Last fall, with the stroke of a pen, CCAC-Toronto wrongly declared Teresa “incapable” and recommended her placement in a long-term care institution in November 2013.

The CCAC records are riddled with false information. (I have obtained the records as Teresa’s new Power of Attorney for Personal Care.) Teresa was incorrectly described as needing 24/7 care. They incorrectly stated that she needed assistance to use the toilet and dress her lower body. Teresa was falsely depicted as a ‘wanderer’ and ‘violent’, but when those descriptions prohibited Teresa from most long-term care homes, they were retracted.

Teresa’s own statements about her independence (“I can dress myself. I can shower myself”) were used as examples of her insidious cognitive decline.

Why would the CCAC inaccurately portray Teresa’s abilities? I won’t speculate on the “why”, but the fact is that the CCAC’s incorrect health profiling enabled her to get to the top of the Crisis List, and into a long-term care home.

Why did the Rekai Centre call the police?

TeresaSlides_Page_39

Teresa spent four days in the Rekai Centre before we could get her discharged. On November 30th, my 91-year old father who had Senior Power of Attorney, signed Teresa out. That day, I spoke with the CEO of the Rekai Centre, Mary Hoare, and informed her that Teresa would be living with me. I sent her an email on December 1st confirming everything.

But then in a move which I can only describe as cruel and callous, the Rekai Centre reported Teresa as a “missing person”. On December 4th, three burly policemen were sent to my home to take Teresa forcibly back to the nursing home.

The fact that the Rekai Centre sent the police to take Teresa back is shocking and traumatizing. Why did they send the police four days after Teresa was discharged? Why didn’t the Rekai Centre just pick up the phone or email me? They knew where she was because they sent the police to my home!

Fortunately, the police reviewed our legal documents. They spoke with my lawyer, and interviewed Teresa herself. They concluded that Teresa was happy and safe living with me, and she did not need to be forced back into the nursing home. See more details here:

http://teresapocock.com/capacity-and-courage/

Teresa now lives with me.

TeresaSlides_Page_49

For the past three and a half months, I have been fighting for Teresa’s rights to live outside of an institution. Her right to decide where she lives has been restored and she is thriving: taking photos, walking, cooking, dancing, learning new money-management skills, and going on trips… She has accompanied me on trips to Washington, DC, Guelph, Ontario, Collingwood, Ontario, Vancouver, BC and Victoria BC. Teresa is now fully engaged in life and enjoying it! To learn more about Teresa, please visit www.teresapocock.com

We need to stand strong to protect the rights of developmentally disabled people so that what Teresa experienced does not happen to anyone else.

Please sign Teresa’s petition Thank you in advance for your support!

Related Stories:

Nowhere Else to Go: 2007 / Toronto Star
http://www.thestar.com/life/2007/02/16/nowhere_else_to_go.html

Disabled Forced into Nursing Homes
“In 1987, The Arc of Illinois filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities forced into nursing homes who did not require nursing home care.”

http://newsletter.csfil.org/index.jsp?CAMPAIGN_ID=443&content_id=805

To learn more about Teresa, please visit www.teresapocock.com

Sign: Teresa’s Petition at Change.org