It is called ‘Long-Term Care’ and I have never liked the words. Growing up in Toronto, the words said to me that this was warehousing for people unable to function with the rest of society, through no fault of their own. As president of the Multiple Sclerosis of Canada and head of public education and board member of the International Federation of MS Societies, I was often taken through local long-term care facilities during my visits to other MS societies around the world. It was never fun.
I think I saw every level of multiple sclerosis as well as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). I also had interesting talks with staff and patients in these places.
Surprisingly the most pleasant and best managed of these facilities I remember was near London, England. I was driven there by a lady with the title “Lady.” Her and her husband were patrons of this home and we received a warm welcome from a motherly woman who was addressed as “Matron.” The MS patients I met all knew my driver and we had some very open and frank discussions of the problems and extremes of multiple sclerosis. I already knew at the time, that MS is of high incidence in Great Britain.
But what struck me about this place is that it was not a “facility.” It was “home” to the people I was meeting. Their private rooms were individualized for them. Bright and airy, they reflected the person’s interests. They were all different. There were none of those multiple bed rooms or hospital-like feelings to the accommodations. We had a very interesting and cheerful afternoon. I often wished other places I saw were as pleasant and as thoughtful of the people who were looked after there.
It was not something I ever saw in Canada. I often thought that when the Canadian MS Society had the resources, it might be able to encourage a number of health agencies in Canada to help pay attention to the needs for long-term care in Canada. We could have done some good.
But I was a volunteer president with a demanding job and a young family at the time. My objective was to get multiple sclerosis recognized as a major health concern and get it the millions needed to carry out a growing program of research toward a cure.
Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry
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