an open letter to cbc marketplace regarding “crying out for care”

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I wrote and sent the text below in a comment, via the Marketplace website and also by email shortly after the Marketplace programme “Crying out for care” aired at the end of January 2018. So far, I haven’t received a response. I am also writing a three-part series of posts related to the CCTV video segment at the start of “Crying for care” (which may be viewed in its entirety at the end of this post), the first instalment of which is entitled “the shocking truth behind this tragic video.”

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Dear CBC Marketplace,

 There are multiple issues with your story “Crying out for care,” particularly with respect to the opening segment, chief amongst which is that dementia is not the cause of the majority of resident-on-resident incidents such as this. More on that here:

dementia not the cause in majority of harmful resident-on-resident interactions

 It’s unhelpful to attribute these incidents to dementia when the behaviours of most people living with dementia are reasonable reactions to the circumstances and environments in which they find themselves:

the broken lens of bpsd: why we need to rethink the way we label the behaviour of people who live with alzheimer disease

It’s also unhelpful (as well as extremely irresponsible) to suggest there is a causal effect between a reduction in the use of antipsychotics and an increase in resident-on-resident interactions with results like the one the shown in the video. A year-long, pan-Canadian collaborative led by the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare improvement found that incidents of physical aggression DECREASE when the use of antipsychotics is reduced:

vindicated and validated

what happens when care homes stop giving antipsychotics to elderly people living with dementia?

While your statisticians may have found that antipsychotic use has gone down and resident-on-resident incidents have gone up, that doesn’t mean the two are correlated. Furthermore, the side effects of antipsychotics include increased anxiety and aggression; thus:

40 side effects of seroquel

40 side effect of risperdal

In fact, the causes of resident-on-resident incidents such as these are the same as the causes of the pervasive, persistent and systemic abuse and neglect that is part and parcel of long-term care in Canada and elsewhere:

10 reasons why neglect and abuse of elders with dementia may be the norm rather the exception in long-term care facilities

Furthermore, I don’t think you are being accurate when you say this is a “year-long investigation,” and if you are, I suggest you hone your investigative techniques because there’s not much depth in this “investigation.” It’s superficial, inflammatory and sensationalist in many places.

Ironically, as a dementia care advocate and activist, I fully agree the system is broken and requires a major overhaul. But the way you present the information with respect to resident-on-resident incidents in particular is counterproductive at best, and irresponsible and damaging at worst.

This is a highly complex issue with no easy solutions. I would ask you to revisit it and provide a more nuanced, balanced and useful discussion of the issues at hand.

Please dig deeper in your investigation.

Thank you,

Susan

Susan Macaulay

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