Lab West residents rally around woman with Alzheimer's in push for better care for seniors

·3 min read
Cheryl Hardy of Wabush, diagnosed with Alzheimer's in November, would have to leave the community for care. Her daughter, Angela, says more services need to be made available in Labrador West.  (Angela Hardy/Facebook - image credit)
Cheryl Hardy of Wabush, diagnosed with Alzheimer's in November, would have to leave the community for care. Her daughter, Angela, says more services need to be made available in Labrador West. (Angela Hardy/Facebook - image credit)
Angela Hardy/Facebook
Angela Hardy/Facebook

Residents of Labrador West are petitioning for better seniors' care in their area to keep families close together instead of sending aging parents and family members to other areas of the province for monitored health care.

It's something Angela Hardy fears as her mother, Cheryl, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in November and remained in hospital before being medically discharged with few options for continued care.

Hardy moved home to Wabush to take care of her mother since there were no other options available.

"Just like everywhere else, we need the baseline," she told CBC News on Tuesday. "We don't have the baseline, and we need that. We need personal-care workers…. The government needs to step up to the plate and make sure that those that work within those services are paid adequately for this local economy."

Cheryl Harder still lives in Labrador West, at the local long-term care centre where she was being treated for delirium. Now that she's recovered, the health board says Hardy should be transferred to a protective-care facility due to her Alzheimer's, but that would mean sending her as far away as Happy Valley-Goose Bay or even to Newfoundland.

Angela and her mother's doctors believe she should stay in Wabush and have appealed the recommendation.

Hardy has launched a petition — and given it the title "We Are All Cheryl Hardy" — calling on the provincial government to make housing and home care services more accessible to seniors. Signatures will be taken until Friday, when the petition will be given to Labrador West MHA Jordan Brown to take to the House of Assembly.

Hardy said her efforts have grown from support for her mother to support for all of Labrador West, adding she hopes the signatures will show there is more the provincial government can do to help the region's aging population.

Submitted by Robert Ruby
Submitted by Robert Ruby

"You have people who have contributed massive, massive amounts of taxes to the government, and the government still keeps not giving them anything in return. The people of Labrador West are pretty sick and tired of it," she said.

"We need honesty and transparency from the government, not broken promises."

Susan Parsons signed the petition Tuesday, saying her father struggled as a senior living in Labrador West due to a lack of services.

"We were able to get him some care only because I had cancer at the time and his caretaker, my mom, had to go to New Brunswick to be with me. We lucked out, but not everyone has a reason like that to get care for their loved ones," Parsons said.

Darryl Dinn/CBC
Darryl Dinn/CBC

Parsons said the provincial government needs to acknowledge the crisis facing seniors in Labrador West.

"We still have seniors that have lived their lives here since the first day it opened. So to see them suffer, it's not right," she said.

Violet Tarrant, who helped organize the petition with Hardy's support, said more initiatives to support seniors and accessible housing have been needed for decades.

"I signed a petition 30 years ago in this mall for [longtime Labrador volunteer] Joan Stamp, to get housing and accommodations for seniors.… She convinced me to sign because I would need it some day," Tarrant said.

"Well, 'some day' is here and now. I need it [but] it's not here. I don't want to leave my family. We need something."

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