In this case the problem seems to be that the legal documents to specify early termination won't do:
I hope the living wills of me and my family are never disrespected in this horrible, inhumane way.
MEDICINE MATTERS: A family's anguish as nursing home continues feeding vegetative patient
Published on: October 4, 2016 | Last Updated: October 4, 2016 2:12 PM PDT
Margot Bentley, a former nurse who's been in a vegetative state for years, languishes in a Fraser Health-funded nursing home in Abbotsford. Handout photo [PNG Merlin Archive]
The photo above is difficult to view. To all those offended by the photo of an emaciated Margot Bentley, I offer apologies. But it’s critical to this post and the issues involved in the tragic case involving a nursing home, health professionals and the Fraser Health Authority which refuses to let a nursing home resident die, according to her expressed wishes.
Bentley, as my previous stories have described, has been in a vegetative state for six years and institutionalized for almost twice as long. The former nurse signed a living will several years before she got Alzheimer’s disease, requesting euthanasia in the event she developed an incurable disease. But her wishes have never been honoured.
Hence, this is how she looks and exists today.
Katherine Hammond with a photo of her mother in healthier days.
Some months ago I wrote about Fraser Health’s bid to get the Public Guardian and Trusteeinvolved in the case after Bentley’s daughter, Katherine Hammond, along with Bentley’s husband, refused (since January, 2015) to pay the $4,000 a month nursing home bills on the grounds that Margot’s wishes have not been respected. Her life is being prolonged by what the family terms as forced feeding.
Fraser Health said it referred the case to the public trustee office because of concerns over how “the funds of an incapable adult are being managed.”
Hammond, also a former nurse, just like her mom, told me the review by The Public Guardian and Trustee has been completed and “they are not seeking authority to manage her affairs.”
The file is indeed closed.
The family still refuses to pay Maplewood House in Abbotsford, which is operated by a non-profit society and subsidized by Fraser Health.
“We feel that if Maplewood House did not feel able to discontinue feeding my mother, we should have been able to bring her home and, under the care and supervision of her GP, she would have been allowed to die, compassionately and appropriately medicated and sedated. This did not happen; in fact, the Abbotsford Police were to be called if we tried to remove my mom from the facility.
So, here she is, 5 years after we tried to have her wishes honoured. Skin and bone, increasingly spastic, lots of rotten teeth; kept alive against her wishes, her suffering prolonged by others. What a horrible and painful tragedy this is.”
When I asked Hammond if I could publish the latest photo of her mother, she said:
“Yes, you can use that tragic picture. Maybe it will help people to question the notion of sustaining life… even if there is no quality of life, of any kind, remaining. In fact, it is often just the prolonging of suffering.”
Tasleem Juma, spokeswoman for Fraser Health, said this when I asked for a comment:
Margot Bentley’s living will asking for euthanasia if she developed an incurable disease. The document is not being honoured because it was not updated and because of a BC Court of Appeal ruling (link below).
“We appreciate this is a very difficult and emotionally-charged issue. As healthcare providers, we are obligated by law to provide the “necessities of life” to our patients, residents and clients. This case raised a number of questions about what that means. That is why we turned to the courts to get clarity of the law as it currently stands.
“We understand that this decision of the courts was not what the family of Mrs. Bentley had hoped for, and they still face the difficult and emotional task of supporting their loved one through the final stage of her life.”
“We will continue to support Maplewood in caring for this resident and engaging her family in the care process.”
1. Bentley videos: http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2013/08/09/videos-show-why-this-former-nurse-wants-to-die-but-a-nursing-home-refuses-to-let-her-go/
2. Daughter’s pleadings: http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2013/08/15/let-my-mother-die-daughter-pleads-in-affidavit/
3. Lawsuit: http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2013/08/07/alzheimers-patient-right-to-die-case-now-before-the-supreme-court-of-bc/
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Move her to Alberta. They can choose to die