Thursday, 4 July 2013

How can someone in their own home getting home care be called a patient?

Alberta health minister Fred Horne’s comment in Thursday’s Edmonton Journal deserves debate on several levels. We applaud Horne for asking Alberta Health Services — what on God’s green earth were they thinking, anyway — to review drastic cut backs to home care. Earlier in June AHS moved to bring multi-national companies to carry out home care duties. Perhaps the thing that stung the most was how home care clients were not consulted in the process at all. (I receive home care and I have cerebral palsy.)

But we cannot uncork the bubbly and do the happy dance. If you read Horne’s quote near the end of Sarah O’Donnell’s story that should concern Albertans on home care, and people with disabilities throughout Alberta.
. “It’s a matter of dignity for patients who receive home care,” Horne said. With all due respect, how can a person with a physical disability, living in their own home, paying rent or owning their own place, be called a “patient?” I don’t get it. We are Albertans, living in the community, paying taxes, contributing in so many ways — out of the long dark shadows of instructional care — and we are still called patients. What a sad and somewhat archaic commentary on how Horne sees us.

I am a patient if I am in the hospital getting acute care. But not in my own home. I am a resident, a neighbor, and a member of a community league. I resent being called a patient in my own home. Should I ask my wife to wear a nurse’s cap now?

Until attitudes, language and action change towards people with disabilities, the fight for home care — and many other programs — is far from over.