Parolympian Speaks Out After Homecare Denied

When it comes to leading a meaningful life, Parolympian Sally Thomas is one to emulate.

Born with spina bifida, the 48 year old has embraced her condition, not wallowing in it and has achieved plenty through her lifetime, including representing Canada at two different Parolympic Games in powerlifting.

So that said, why is it so difficult for her to attain the help she needs to live a normal life?

Sally relies on assistance from personal support workers to perform daily tasks, but upon recently leaving the hospital last week, where she had been for the last 100 days due to her medical condition, gaining access to the support she needed proved to be very difficult.

“To be at home but still kind of incarcerated and stuck, because people are not doing their job, is even more frustrating than being in the hospital,” she said.

Carefor is the name of an Ottawa based agency providing home support all across eastern Ontario and according to Thomas, she relies on them exclusively to help her lead a meaningful life.

Since leaving the hospital, she has had to fight tooth and nail to receive services from Carefor, and on Friday, was told that nobody was available that evening to help her.

“They just simply said, ‘Well, we don’t have anybody, so it’s not happening tonight,'” Thomas said. I’m like, ‘What do you mean it’s not happening?’ I said, ‘I need care.'”

Sally’s mother is currently staying with her, to help out due to the shortage of Carefor support staff, and states that her daughter is a very proud person and to have this happen to her is totally rediculous and very unprofessional.

“It’s so dehumanizing,” MacDonald said. “Sally’s a very proud, independent, accomplished woman. For her just to be left, so that she can’t get the care that lets her go out and have her life, is just inexcusable.”

According to Carefor CEO Steve Perry, it is actually not uncommon to have a shortage of personal support staff to help clients with daily care. He states that across Canada, the number of Canadians that need personal support care is on the rise and there is just not enough trained staff to manage the increase.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a regular occurrence as much as it’s not uncommon for it to happen,” he said. “While we strive to match every single client visit with a worker, it is not always possible.

As an agency, we recognize those pressures that are on the system, and [we] are working really hard to do our part to support clients,” he said. “While agencies such as ours strive to meet 100 per cent of the demand for services, it’s not always possible.”

“People with disabilities deserve their freedoms as well as their ability to be adults and people in the community,” Thomas said. “Without that help, that’s not
possible.”

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About the Author: Brad Bennett

Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada's most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca