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Letter: How do privately owned prisons compare with privately owned senior facilities?

To The Editor:

I have been trying to increase public awareness of the poor quality of care that our seniors receive in facilities with the hope that more people will raise their voices against this outrage, to our provincial government.

The Senior Advocates reports verify that the quality of care is declining due in part to insufficient training, staff levels, and therapy. And everyone seems to think that this is due to a lack of funding.

I disagree.

Many of my letters have been printed by various papers across the province which contain facts my research uncovered. No paper has ever printed the facts that I have found concerning privately owned for profit facilities.

And I have never thought to compare senior facilities with any other for profit companies until I read the recent announcement from the United States declaring that they will be bringing an end to privately owned for profit prisons. I was shocked to find that their descriptions of the conditions in these prisons so closely resembled many of the senior facilities in BC.

The US Department of Justice stated that: "What was once a correctional system, is now a profit engine whose fuel is prisoners". They described it as "Corrupt, abusive, inhumane, and unsafe".

Over the last year we have all read the many reports of neglect, abuse and unnatural deaths of our seniors. And many of these incidents are occurring in for profit facilities. Statistics show that on average, for profit facilities have lower staff levels.

Investigations have shown that for profit provide inferior care because revenue in excess of expenses is directed toward owners and stockholders rather than to benefit clients.

Financial experts recommend buying stocks in these companies because of "High dividends generated by govt. funding". And our Health Ministry refuses to: "Expand enforcement options to create a system of administrative penalties that can be applied to facility operators who do not comply with requirements". Dare I describe as corrupt?

Appropriate personality evaluations of employees is not mandatory. Just recently in BC a male nurse was convicted of assaulting seniors. Dare I describe as abusive and unsafe?

Sufficient staffing levels are not enforced by our ministry. A recent article reported the shameful neglect of a senior who was forced to lay in her own waste for long periods of time due to insufficient staff. Dare I say inhumane?

There is a very clear similarity between these two systems. The US has acknowledged that the care of criminals for profit has to end. But they are just as guilty as our govt. in refusing to recognize that the care of seniors for profit must end as well.

Our seniors are the fuel for these profit engines.

Judy Galley
Sorrento, BC