HAMPTON, N.B. – The son of a 90-year-old woman forced to leave a care home in New Brunswick says the province lacks rules to protect the rights of families and residents when homes issue evictions.
Wayne Leaman says he and his mother, Louise, received a letter last Wednesday giving her until the end of February to leave the Clearview special care home in Hampton.
The letter, a copy of which was provided by Leaman, says the home can no longer accommodate his mother.
Leaman said a worker with the Social Development Department later told him the reason for his mother’s eviction was that she was unco-operative with staff.
“I don’t just understand how you can say people are difficult and get rid of them,” he said Tuesday in a telephone interview from his home in Hampton. “It’s almost like they’re disposable.”
He said he doesn’t think the province has sufficient oversight of eviction notices.
The home’s owner declined comment, referring all questions to the provincial government.
The department of Social Development’s guidelines say operators of care homes can issue evictions when residents are a threat to the safety of themselves or others.
A spokeswoman for the social development minister said the final decision rests with the home after consulting with officials from her department.
Judy Cole said there are many vacancies at other special care homes around the province, and a transfer was arranged for Leaman to another residence in Hampton.
“We understand some families are asking for more information,” she said. “We are looking at requiring operators to show just cause and explaining the discharge to a family.”
Cole said the government is reviewing its care home policy and considering adding a clause that requires homes to have just cause before issuing evictions.
Jan Seely, president of the New Brunswick Special Care Home Association, said care homes — which in the province are all privately run but publicly funded — can occasionally have situations where safety requires a resident be moved.
She said it generally only occurs after a series of documented incidents.
“We have to look out for the safety of the others that live there and try to ensure a safe environment for them,” she said in a telephone interview. “Discharge is the last resort.”
Cecile Cassista, director of a New Brunswick advocacy group for seniors in nursing homes, said her group has heard from other seniors and their families about threats of eviction.
She said seniors who may have complaints about the standard of care at homes may be too afraid to voice them because of the threat of eviction.
“Special care homes should not have the power to evict people as they see fit,” said Cassista.
— By Michael Tutton in Halifax.