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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”

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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.

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?

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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?

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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.

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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