Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More on the Closure of Extendicare

Ms Pastoor: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Health and Wellness stated on May 20 of ’08 in this Legislature that “obviously, we need more long-term care facilities,” which gave me great hope. However, two days ago in Lethbridge families were told that the long-term care facility operated by Extendicare would be closed by July 1 of 2009.
To the Minister of Health and Wellness: why is the minister allowing this situation in Lethbridge, where Extendicare is closing 120 long-term care facility beds in spite of his statement that long-term care facilities are needed in the province?

Mr. Liepert: Well, Mr. Speaker, the member is correct that the facility in Lethbridge, which is quite aged, is going to close. However, what the hon. member did not mention is the fact that there is a replacement centre going up. It’s a designated assisted living centre. As a matter of fact, the former Chinook health region has one of the leading models on how we can have seniors live in facilities that are not always long-term care.

Ms Pastoor: Definitions are clearly needed to be understood in this province. DAL is not long-term care. Is this what the minister was referring to on May 20 in ’08, when he said that “we need to look at removing barriers that exist today for private operators to also participate in the delivery of long-term care?”
Does the minister want to shut down the pre-existing facilities in order to create more demand for profit long-term care?

Mr. Liepert: Mr. Speaker, I know where this member is coming from. This member believes in a philosophy that as soon as you can, you stick a senior citizen into long-term care in an area that they don’t necessary feel the most comfortable in. It’s a philosophical difference. What we are going to do in this province is provide facilities, a variety of facilities, where our seniors can live in dignity where they want to live, not where the opposition wants them to be.

Ms Pastoor: Absolutely, totally wrong. You’re not getting it.
When long-term care was deregulated – housing and care are two different things. I’m talking about care. What is the minister’s response to the residents of the current long-term care facility who were assessed as needing care beyond the level that can be delivered by a designated assisted living facility that won’t even be completed by the time the long-term care facility closes?

Mr. Liepert: Mr. Speaker, this member can get all worked up into a sweat about it, but there are other long-term care facilities in
Lethbridge, so the health region has said that they will ensure that these particular patients are looked after. There are many facilities in southern Alberta that can accommodate the needs of these citizens.

Alberta Hansard, October 22, page #1473

Long Term Plans for Long Term Care

For the past few years the regional health authorities have been pursuing a policy of converting Long Term Care (LTC) facilities into Designated Assisted Living (DAL) facilities in our region. The latest measure is the announced closing of Extendicare's LTC facility on the northside of Lethbridge and the building of a new DAL facility on the southside, down by Superstore.

What are the implications of this policy?

1. LTC facilities have RNs, LPNs, a Director of Care, social workers, dieticians, physical/occupational therapists, rec therapists, and Personal Care Aides (PCAs) - DALs have PCAs and may have an LPN.

2. In LTC residents meds, incontinence products etc are covered. In DAL the resident or their family pay for them.

The rationale offered for the policy is that not all seniors need a nursing home level of care so the building of DAL facilities offers a medium step between a lodge and LTC. Fine. But once Extendicare closes its LTC the only nursing home left in the city will be Edith Cavell. I've spent a lot of time in nursing homes and I don't believe that there is any way that one 80 bed facility can handle the nursing care needs of seniors in our community. This isn't about creating more options. This is about slashing the cost of caring for seniors with significant nursing needs and transferring those costs onto the families. This is about warehousing seniors. I find it an appalling policy.

The more immediate issue is the decision to close Extendicare in July and farm 120 residents out to the existing DALs in the region until a new DAL facility is built. So people will not only lose their home they will be separated from the other residents and from the staff who are like their family. They may find themselves placed in Taber or the Pass and their families will not be able to visit as often. It may mean they will see much less of their husbands or wives. It is a horrible decision with grave implications. My letter to the editor appeared in the paper this morning. You can read it here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Great News

Last Monday was a brutal day. Families were told at Extendicare that the Lethbridge facility would be closed next July although they haven't even started building the new facility. This means residents will be separated not only from their home but also from their friends to be farmed out across the health region.

Then a hearing was held concerning the rezoning necessary to move the Native Women's Transition Home into the old Netherlands Reformed Church. It was tough to sit and listen to people raising their concerns about the home moving into their neighbourhood and then have one of the women from the Transition board cry asking the neighbours to please just accept them.

But today was a good day. The City Council voted unanimously to approve the rezoning so the Transition Home now has a new permanent site!

Now we have to do what we can to convince the powers that be to postpone the closing of Extendicare until the new facility is built.

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are a Doris!

You are a Doris -- "I must help others."

Dorises are warm, concerned, nurturing, and sensitive to other people's needs.

How to Get Along with Me
  • * Tell me that you appreciate me. Be specific.

  • * Share fun times with me.

  • * Take an interest in my problems, though I will probably try to focus on yours.

  • * Let me know that I am important and special to you.

  • * Be gentle if you decide to criticize me.

In Intimate Relationships

  • * Reassure me that I am interesting to you.

  • * Reassure me often that you love me.

  • * Tell me I'm attractive and that you're glad to be seen with me.

What I Like About Being a Doris

  • * being able to relate easily to people and to make friends

  • * knowing what people need and being able to make their lives better

  • * being generous, caring, and warm

  • * being sensitive to and perceptive about others' feelings

  • * being enthusiastic and fun-loving, and having a good sense of humor

What's Hard About Being a Doris

  • * not being able to say no

  • * having low self-esteem

  • * feeling drained from overdoing for others

  • * not doing things I really like to do for myself for fear of being selfish

  • * criticizing myself for not feeling as loving as I think I should

  • * being upset that others don't tune in to me as much as I tume in to them

  • * working so hard to be tactful and considerate that I suppress my real feelings

Dorises as Children Often

  • * are very sensitive to disapproval and criticism

  • * try hard to please their parents by being helpful and understanding

  • * are outwardly compliant

  • * are popular or try to be popular with other children

  • * act coy, precocious, or dramatic in order to get attention

  • * are clowns and jokers (the more extroverted Dorises), or quiet and shy (the more introverted Dorises)

Dorises as Parents

  • * are good listeners, love their children unconditionally, and are warm and encouraging (or suffer guilt if they aren't)

  • * are often playful with their children

  • * wonder: "Am I doing it right?" "Am I giving enough?" "Have I caused irreparable damage?"

  • * can become fiercely protective

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz at HelloQuizzy

thanks to Crimson Rambler

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Glorious Concert

At yesterday's convocation at the University of Lethbridge Ben Heppner was given an honourary degree and then today he gave a concert to raise money for music scholarships. It was a glorious concert! There were four standing ovations including one in the middle of the concert. He was incredible.

The heart of the concert for me were two operatic pieces. The first was from Massanet's opera Le Cid. It is this beautiful prayer - the lines that especially moved me were "O sovereign, O judge, O father, always hidden, ever present, I loved you in times of good fortune and I bless you in times of sadness!" The piece that did me in though was the next aria from Andrea Chenier by Umberto Giordano. It is an indictment of French nobility who turn their backs on the plight of the poor and the final line is, "love is a gift divine, do not despise it, the moving spirit of the universe is love!" Dad was very present to me while Dr. Heppner sang that piece. I wish it had gone on a lot longer.

Today I was very proud to be associated with the university.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Lord's Prayer

I love the Speaking to the Soul site over at Episcopal Cafe and read it most mornings as part of my morning prayer. Today's was really delightful:

Daily Reading for October 16 • Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, Bishops, 1555, and Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1556

But one word is left, which we must needs consider; Noster, ‘our.’ He saith not ‘my,’ but ‘our.’ Wherefore saith he ‘our’? This word ‘our’ teacheth us to consider that the Father of heaven is a common Father; as well my neighbour’s Father as mine; as well the poor man’s Father as the rich: so that he is not a peculiar Father, but a Father to the whole church and congregation, to all the faithful. Be they never so poor, so vile, so foul and despised, yet he is their Father as well as mine: and therefore I should not despise them, but consider that God is their Father as well as mine. Here may we perceive what communion is between us; so that when I pray, I pray not for myself alone, but for all the rest: again, when they pray, they pray not for themselves only, but for me: for Christ hath so framed this prayer, that I must needs include my neighbour in it. Therefore all those which pray this prayer, they pray as well for me as for themselves; which is a great comfort to every faithful heart, when he considereth that all the church prayeth for him. For amongst such a great number there be some which be good, and whose prayer God will hear. . . . So that it is a great comfort unto us to know that all good and faithful persons pray for us.

From Hugh Latimer’s “First Sermon on the Lord’s Prayer,” in The Works of Hugh Latimer, ed. G. E. Corrie (Parker Society, 1844).

Monday, October 13, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Five Influences

Tim has tagged me to list 5 people living or dead who have influenced me spiritually. Like Tim I've been thinking about this a lot lately. So here it goes:

Fr. Bert Foliot was the pastor of St. Ignatius RC Church in Winnipeg when I was a young Christian. I haven't seen him for years but a week doesn't go by that I don't think about him and wonder what he would do in some situation. He is the model for me of what a priest is about. He is prayerful, dedicated and compassionate. I still remember sermons he preached almost 30 years ago and I am still challenged by his passion for marginalized people.

The folks at Church of the Ascension in Coaldale are a wonderful community of prayer and they have challenged me to live more simply. They have taught me so much about being open and to put people before everything else. This is cheating a bit since they are a group but at the heart of this community is an individual who has had a huge impact on me. The Rev'd Marjorie Kennon was one of the first women ordained in the Anglican Church of Canada and was the first woman priest in this diocese. She has given her whole life to service to God and to God's people. She is prayerful, thoughtful, faithful, hardworking and kind. I have learned a great deal from her and value her friendship and example very much.

The Venerable Sidney Black was the curate at St. Augustine's when I first moved to Lethbridge and now he is the rector of St. Cyprian's in Brockett and the archdeacon for aboriginal ministry in our deanery. Sidney is a powerful example to me of faithfulness and perseverance in the face of discouragement and difficulties. He also makes me laugh and has encouraged me often.

Peter Erb was my MA advisor at Wilfrid Laurier University. Peter is an incredible scholar publishing innumerable articles and books, giving lectures, teaching students who think the world of him. Peter was raised Amish and then his church joined a Mennonite body so for most of the time I've known him Peter was a Mennonite. But six years ago he was received into the RC church. He has taught me much about the value of study to the Christian life over the years, has introduced me to so much of the Christian tradition and through his example has taught me not to take myself too seriously.

These are all people I've known personally and I feel a little overwhelmed trying to think of who I would single out among the writers who've influenced me. Graham Greene was so important to me as a young Christian and I still adore Monsignor Quixote and reread it often. Chaim Potok's novels have had a huge impact on me. Eugene Peterson's books have taught me a lot about ministry and thinking of Peterson I could have also included Pastor John Dozois in my list of influences on me. John was my mentor for several years and gave me a new love for St. Paul and introduced me to Peterson's books. James Alison's books have helped me deal with my anger at times when I've been treated unjustly and so have had a significant impact on me. One of my great heroes is Archbishop Desmond Tutu who models faithfulness, courage, compassion and great humour. And then there is Henri Nouwen who taught me a great deal about vulnerability and grace through his books. And then there are the martyrs Martin Luther King and Oscar Romero who have encouraged me to have courage in the face of violence.

I owe so much to these people and to so many more that I could go on for pages. Instead I think I will return to the person who first taught me that Jesus loved me, who first taught me that I could never get so lost that he wouldn't find me, who first taught me to love Scripture, my grandmother Molly Phillips, of blessed memory.

Now I tag Aaron, Kevin, Lindsey, Kathryn, and Paul

Just a few more thoughts on Wendell Berry

In 2005 an article appeared in Christian Century by Kyle Childress entitled "Good Work: Learning about Ministry from Wendell Berry." It was one of those pieces of writing that resonated with me in a deep heart centred way. It is a really lovely tribute to the insights of Wendell Berry and their application to ministry. But more than that it evoked for me everything I was coming to value about paying attention, learning to see in new ways, falling in love with what it is that I am truly seeing and not with my ideas of what I'm seeing.

Years ago my teacher Peter Erb opened up the world of Iris Murdoch, and through Murdoch Simone Weil, to me particularly their notion of the need to pay attention. Later I would read Danny Gregory's book Everyday Matters about how his return to drawing, particularly the drawing of his surroundings, helped him to find meaning and purpose and joy after an accident left his wife in a wheelchair.

It is hard work, paying attention. And it takes time. And it means learning to turn away from distractions. And it requires patience. In Thomas' teaching on prudence he talks about the need for docilitas, docility. Docility is a bad word in our culture but Thomas said that if you were going to make right judgements you couldn't prejudge a situation, you needed to allow the situation to inform you first. And that required being docile.

I taught for a year at a Catholic college where students were required to take a course in ethics and we read Josef Pieper's wonderful book, The Four Cardinal Virtues. One of the most delightful moments of the year for me came when I read a student's reflection paper on his experience volunteering in an after school programme for predominately African American children. He wrote that he had never thought of himself as prejudiced but that he really had never spent any time with people who were black. In spending time with these children he had come to realize that prejudice can also mean prejudging people even if those judgements aren't negative. He said that he had learned he needed to practice docilitas so that he might come to understand people different from himself.

This thanksgiving I give thanks for Kyle Childress, Simone Weil, Iris Murdoch, Peter Erb, Norman Wirzba and Rick for teaching me to practice a little more docilitas as I pay attention that I might understand and love my community truly.

Being Thankful

I like to spend Thanksgiving weekend doing a lot ot thinking about things I'm thankful for. I got encouragement in doing so last night at the Tagg-Yoshida lecture at the U of L. Norman Wirzba, formerly of Columbia College in Kentucky and now of Duke Divinity school, gave a delightful talk on giving thanks for the land. Norman is from here originally and came back two years ago to speak for the chaplaincy on sabbath rest. Last night he was addressing issues basic to how we see land, food, and place. He has done a lot of stuff with Wendell Berry and he quoted him often in his talk. I love Berry's poetry and have begun to read his essays. Challenging stuff.

More on that another time. Tonight, as I go to bed, I am reflecting on where Norman began his talk: "Gratitude is the heart of what it is to be a good person."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

On Reading History

Here are some interesting reflections on how we interpret historical figures.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Denny's latest

Happy Birthday Desmond Tutu

Today is Archbishop Desmond Tutu's 77th birthday! Happy Birthday!

Archbishop Tutu is one of my heroes in the faith. I was fortunate to hear him preach the week he was given an honourary doctorate by Oxford University in 1990. He was an incredible preacher, captivating the packed church.

There is a wonderful story about him on Telling Secrets. Enjoy!

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago yesterday Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten and left alone in a field tied to a fence. Six days later he died.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Disparities in the Family

Yesterday I spoke at the ACW regional meeting at St. Paul and St. Thomas parish in Cardston. Well, the church is actually on the Blood reserve on the edge of town. Driving back yesterday I thought about what I had said in my talk. I spoke about the picture of the church in the Book of Acts and how the wealthy sold property to care for the poor of the community. My main point was that the church is a family and in passing said that in families some members don't eat steak while others eat hamburger.

Nice idea but as I was driving home I realized that in our church some of us are eating steak while others are eating worse than hamburger. Some of our parishes have beautiful buildings, resident clergy, and resources for music and children's programmes. Many of our rural parishes and especially our aboriginal parishes struggle without regular clergy, have old buildings they can't afford to maintain, and have few resources.

Worldly economic theory says that these parishes should close, that their members are few, that they aren't self-supporting or anything like self-supporting, and that the resources of the church would be better spent on building or expanding churches in the booming suburbs of our cities or their satellite communities. But what of the people in these communities?

I have spoken to people working in our rural communities, people aware of the rural crisis, the closing of post offices, schools and community centres. They speak of the pain in many rural communities as people lose family farms, as they see their children leave the community never to return except for a visit. I was preaching in one small church where there are about 20 people on a Sunday morning but where the church is used almost every day by community groups who couldn't afford to meet anywhere else. I spoke with one young woman after the service about the future of this little church. Where will these people go if the church closes their doors she asked. Good question.

And what about our reserves. There are four reserves in our diocese, each with a long history of Anglican presence, each still with functioning Anglican parishes. Yet we have one full time priest to serve these four communities. And these are hurting communities. They need help, they need support, they need the church.

This isn't just an Anglican problem. As a chaplain for four denominations I get to visit many of the churches in South Alberta and I know it is a problem for other denominations as well. So what are we going to do? Are we going to continue to eat steak while our brothers and sisters struggle to put something, anything on the table?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Spirit Blows

I've made two trips in two days to one of our parishes on the neighbouring reserve and I had a lot a post coming together out of those visits but in the meantime I just read this post and loved it. Under the Overpasses is a fascinating blog but for someone who lives in one of the windiest parts of North America this posting on the Spirit blowing really blew me away.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Feast of St. Francis

There is much about St. Francis that lends itself to a kind of sweet piety and I'm okay with that. I love the images of him with deer and birds and wolves. When I was confirmed almost 30 years ago I took St. Francis as my patron saint because he loved the animals. But I also knew that he was much more than that. He spoke for peace in a time of the crusades and put his body in harms way to try to bring it about. Despite my middle class lifestyle I am convicted by his embrace of poverty and I am challenged by his embrace of the lepers. Today on Episcopal Cafe there is a reminder of this aspect of St. Francis. It is well worth reading.