Please Help Dan Heap

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Uncle John
Please Help Dan Heap

what hope do we have for ordinary seniors and poor seniors when a former NDP mp with such a public profile cannot get the help they need to live in dignity at old age?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I don't have any hope whatsoever, which is why I'm getting myself back in shape at age 62, and renovating my buildings here - I intend to live in my Kegaska home as long as I can. I already qualify for HomeCare under disability provisions, but I'm doing fine on my own.

howeird beale

I met him a couple of times at demos and benefits when I was younger. He was quiet dignified and friendly.

This is a goddam disgrace.


I still have great memories of the sweaty victory party In the union hall on Cecil St when he won the by-election. We had been narrowly trailing in the count but pulled ahead on the advance poll which was the very last poll to report.
Jim Coutts had been touted as Trudeau's heir and Spadina was supposed to be a safe Liberal seat, Peter Stollery being put into the Senate to make way for him.
Coutts had the good grace to show up to make a concession speech. He sounded utterly shocked and robotic. As he was wading through the crowd to the exit he was lashed with chants of " We put the boots to Coutts." by hundreds of intoxicated New Democrats. Not very gracious of us, but it was great night.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

takeitslowly wrote:

what hope do we have for ordinary seniors and poor seniors when a former NDP mp with such a public profile cannot get the help they need to live in dignity at old age?

The treatment of Dan Heap is nothing short of disgraceful.

But I hope you weren't implying that somehow, as a former NDP MP, he is some kind of VIP who should be getting preferential treatment over the rest of us "ordinary" seniors. Heap's (former) "public profile" allows his plight to be featured in a newspaper, but there are thousands of anonymous others in the same circumstances whose stories are not being told.

"What hope do we have?" Two: slim and none.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I think the Star article was saying 'if this could happen to the Heaps, it could happen to any one of us'.


The problem is that the waiting lists for facilities offering long term care are approximately 12 to 18 months long. When the need arises, of course, you need a spot now. We went through this excerise earlier with elderly parents (81 and 82) who suffered a rapid decline and who could not stay in their rural home. There are few options for families and it is difficult to get answers or solutions other than to learn from others going through the same problem. In our case, they recovered enough so we could get space in a retirement home but that facility does not have the facilities for long term care and we are dreading what may happen next. There have been several stories on this issue in the Toronto Star and what families are trying to do. With the baby boomers hitting retirement age, this problem will get much much worse.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I knew the Heaps when I attended Trinity College in Toronto in the 1970s, and attended their church a few times (Holy Trinity behind the Eaton Centre). They're icons in the community for their devotion to social justice.

Apparently it's not a money issue per se - the article doesn't give much info, just that the Heaps are waiting for long term care beds. It  appears to me that the Ontario provincial government has failed and needs to act quickly to get these provided. I guess the 'help' the Toronto Star wants for the Heaps is public support to get the provincial govt to fulfill their responsibilities in this regard. I don't know really what responsibility the Toronto municipal govt has here.

With the baby boomers at retirement age or very close, there's a huge demographic that's going to need these kind of care facilities, and I don't see much evidence that governments at any level are planning for this onslaught. Here on the Quebec coast I haven't seen any new long term facilities opened in a while. One - a retirement co-operative for non-profit was planned here in Kegaska but the red tape forced the investor to reconsider and now we have nothing.


Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I wish I was a bit younger and in better health. I would love to join with other interested people here in isolated communities to advocate for better retirement planning such as co-operative/non-profit retirement housing. All we have here in Kegaska is a Home Care program, which falls far short of what folks like the Heaps need.


Home care is what is being pushed. THe hospitals have many elderly waiting for spots in long tern care facilities and this has been gong for for quite some time. The hospitals say that the person can be cared for at home with home care but the home care is only several visits a week and the burden of providing long term care falls on the elderly spouse. As to setting up your own long term facility - good luck. The long term care facility (profit or non-profit) needs nurses and onsite medical care plus staff to provide extensive care. Tough for isolated communities and even for small cities.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Yes, here on the coast we have I think two facilities designated long term retirement care, and one is on top of the community clinic with nursing care and doctors who fly in once a week or so on a rotating basis. The other is attached to a small hospital with a permanent staff of doctors and nurses.

I have a social worker who oversees my case and she constantly is puzzled why I don't accept Home Care. I guess I want to be totally independent for as long as possible.

There are three other retirement homes on the coast - very small, at the most eleven residents - and they receive regular visitation from clinic staff such as nurses, doctors, and social workers. This is the model I am looking for here - I agree with you that long term medical care is impractical in such a setting. My proposal - and it would be nonprofit - is for individuals with substantial autonomy.


Individuals with substantial autonmy have more options. The problem is that the need for 24/7 care (aka long term care) can arise so quickly with elderly and there are no places to go. We could find retirement homes (individuals with substantial autonomy) but long term care was where there was a big problem. And even if you get a spot, it may be at the other end of the province and then you are on a waiting list to be moved closer to their home.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

It's a huge problem, for sure. I wish the governments at every level would get off their hairy butts and do something!

Here, because of the isolation and lack of both regular physician's care and specialized services, I think every senior on the coast is assigned a social worker to handle their case so as to ensure no one gets left behind in terms of medical care. Take for example me - I regularly get asked by my social worker if I will accept Home Care! Laughing

 And - I get faxed calls on a regular monthly basis to come to the community clinic for blood work and blood pressure measurements.


Rode in a car with fellow-passenger Dan was from a Windsor convention about 1964. He was very patient with the views of a somewhat younger and vastly more inexperienced New Democrat. I'll bet he just didn't want to hear about losing his independence. Ever.

Hopefully the family can find the couple a space in the same long-term-care facility, and that it is not one of the private institutions that Mike Harris brought in the late 90s. The particular one to avoid these days is Extendacare, with two-thirds of its "homes" in the United States where lowered funding has just come into effect and caused that old familiar "sharpening of pencils". Employees have been laid off, some personal support workers are now on cleaning details, and in at least one facility, there is a one-hour gap in the afternoon when only a couple of nurses walk the halls.

Wasn't it the historian ... Taylor who found that a society's future depended on its care of the elderly? One hopes that those who don't bother voting have a sugar daddy to fall back on at the end of their days.


Much better models of home care do exist - it's a matter of societal choices and political will. The Danish model looks like a good starting point: waits for home care are illegal, the number of hours of home care is unlimited (after 10 hours per day, social services suggest a move to a nursing home, but it is not imposed - only 2 forcible moves out of 14,000 cases in Copenhagen last year; services are public, and the PCWs seem to be paid decent wages (see La Presse, September 17).


The Scandinavian long-term-care residence is tiny and "home-like"by design, not 100-plus residents and TV rooms for the stackable non-ambulatory and dementias.