What we have here is a failure to communicate. The director of homecare at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says employee safety is important but in cases like Gwen King there is flexibility. King has stage four lung cancer and wants her dog Jack by her side. She was told several times by homecare staff Jack and her cat needed to be locked in another room when staff is in her home. That’s a deal breaker for her.
The woman’s family is scattered across Canada. They are in and out of the city to help as much as possible. They hired a private care service to stay with the 83-year-old woman. Homecare service provided by the WRHA is supposed to fill the gaps. Some workers refused to enter the home with pets present. A case coordinator was supposed to do an assessment but King fell through the cracks. Vikas Sethi of the WRHA apologized to the family and told 680 CJOB Jack will be at her master’s side.
Sethi: “We should be sitting down with the family and developing a safe visit plan.”
Cloutier: “Why wasn’t that done in this case and many other cases?”
Sethi: “I sincerely appreciate you bringing this story forward… this is not an issue of avoiding the policy, it’s more an issue of awareness and application.”
Sethi admitted staff don’t understand or enforce the policy. He promised homecare workers and supervisors would be educated to solve problems, especially when it comes to patients like King who have end of life issues.
Many listeners were outraged after watching the video and hearing the story on Thursday. Others said employee safety is paramount.
Karen – I’m a healthcare worker who goes into homes everyday. I love animals and understand the need for them. Unfortunately there are many things to consider when you have people coming in. There are regulations set up due to health and safety. Allergies and a genuine fear are some of the issues. It would be great if workers who don’t mind the pets were the ones sent in, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. The rules have to be consistent across the board because of last minute staffing changes and any other issues that arise.
Lorraine – Each situation should be assessed individually! Having worked as a homecare nurse, I only encountered one miserable little dog and he was locked up. These pets are so important to these people – they are family and often the only family there. As for allergies, switch the worker! There are lots of options available and the government has to realize they are supposed to be providing CARE and COMFORT for those during their end of life and that includes the comfort from their pets.
Valerie – I’m a homecare nurse and as long as we are notified there’s a pet in the home and the animal is not vicious or contaminating the area, they can roam free. When there are pets regardless of species we are asked, if we care if there is a dog or cat and you are allowed to turn down those clients. For myself, I don’t care as long as I’m not going to get bit and it doesn’t interfere with my work.
King’s daughter Cheri is satisfied and hopeful others in a similar situation will benefit.
“What about other people who don’t have the resources of the people to advocate for them who are going through this,” says Cheri. “One worker being totally rude and sitting in the living room with arms crossed pointing at the dog like it was some like of disease… my concern is what about other people?”
Sethi promised change and we will check back with them to make sure the policy is being explained and fairly implemented.
If you have an issue that needs to be investigated, you can email me anytime.