Artist and poet Teresa Pocock is full of smiles for her sister Franke James, whom she has lived with since being discharged from a senior’s home.
But Pocock is not a senior.
She used to live with her elderly father in a Toronto condo, but when he was preparing to move into a senior’s home himself, the local Community Care Access Centre assessed Pocock.
A social worker declared Pocock “not capable” of deciding for herself where to live.
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“She was not given a choice in the matter, in fact when she stood up and said that she was capable, she was ignored,” said James.
The Ontario Ministry of Health moved the then-49-year-old into The Rekai Centre.
“I did not want to be there, I was crying and scared,” Pocock said in a video she made with her sister.
So James picked her up and took her home.
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Shortly after that, three police officers showed up after the centre had declared her a missing person.
They had to prove Pocock was legally discharged.
James said there was no way they were leaving Pocock where she was, partially because the average age in Ontario long term care homes is 83.
“She would have been living with people who were one stop from the grave,” said James.
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James said Pocock’s rights were ignored twice; first, when she was declared “incapable.”
Although a government investigation into Pocock’s case concluded there was no wrongdoing, James said they have documents showing the social worker included false information on the form.
“The government is trying to sweep this under the rug,” said James.
Their other issue is the fact that Pocock was supposed to live in a long term care home.
They want an official apology from the Ontario government
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“This is a wrong done against Teresa. Her rights were violated,” said James.
It’s an effort backed by a half dozen human and civil rights organizations, including the BC Civil Liberties Association.
“This kind of treatment is inappropriate. It’s important for both the government of Ontario and other governments across the country to improve how they deal with people in these kinds of situations,” said Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BCCLA.
James said it is important to admit mistakes were made, so it doesn’t happen again to someone else.
Then she reached over to give Pocock a hug, in the apartment they now share in Vancouver along with James’ husband.
“You’re okay. We love you, we love you and I’m proud of you.”
This is part one of a two-part story. Comment from the Ministry of Health will be published Friday.