The Transitions Coordinator handed Catherine some documents, pointing to the top sheet with emphasis. “This here is a list of long term care sites in the area. You’ll need to review and pick your top three choices.” “I really wish I had more time,” Catherine said, taking the paper and scanning it over.
“Wait a second,” Catherine said with some confusion. “You’ve listed only eleven places here. I was on the Alberta Health Services website last night and there are over 100 buildings in the area according to their list of Continuing Care Centres. This can’t be right.” The Coordinator shook her head. “That site lists all continuing care sites, including Designated Supportive Living and Long Term Care. The list I gave you are what your mother needs.” Catherine took a look at the list again. “I know there were places listed on the website that have couples suites…some even take pets. These places…I don’t think I looked at these ones…I don’t think it’s what mom and dad are looking for.”
The Transitions Coordinator gave a dismissive sigh. “Just go through this list please and let me know your top three preferences, and then whatever comes available first will be where your mother is placed.” Catherine pushed the papers back towards the Coordinator. “I’m not really comfortable with how this is working right now. I would like to review all the options, visit these places and make the right decision for my mom…AND my father. I feel like you’re backing me into a corner right now, and it’s really not appreciated.” The Transitions Coordinator was professional, but curt. “I know it is difficult when you have to make decisions in these types of situations. But as I previously stated, these places meet your mother’s health care needs. We would like to transition her into long term care as soon as possible, so the sooner you make your decisions, the sooner that can happen.”
Catherine took the papers back. “Well, can you tell me which ones have couple suites available?” The worker quickly glanced over at the sheet. “Off-hand, no. Keep in mind that the availability of a couples suite will depend on a few other factors as well…just because they offer those suites does not guarantee that one of those spots will be immediately available.”
Catherine was not impressed and tried to explain. “As you may be aware, my father refuses to live separately from my mom.” Catherine took out her phone and started typing furiously into her browser. “There was this very nice center on the west end of the city that has space available for both mom and dad. I think they even accepted pets. Here, I’ll show you…” The worker cut off Catherine, agitated. “That was likely a DSL site you were looking at. Your choices are limited to that list. Again, take a look and research your choices based on that.”
Catherine put down the phone she was accessing internet on and looked at the worker. “Look, I’m trying to understand and make an informed decision for my parents. But you’re telling me that my parents have no choice beyond these few buildings, meanwhile, I go to YOUR website…for long term care…and I click on the link that has all the long term care listings for Edmonton…and there are literally over a hundred…and you’re telling me that only ELEVEN of these have space for my mom?” Catherine shook her head. “Why list a hundred sites when…really…you’re just going to hand people a sheet of paper in a hospital and tell them to ‘pick three and hope for the best?’ I understand there are processes here, and limited availability…but really?”
The worker tried her best to smile. “I understand your frustration. But it does come down to understanding how all this works. The site you were on is for ALL continuing care centres. Some of those places listed do not have the supports and services in place that your mom needs. We are looking out for what is best for her.”
Catherine let out a long, exhausted sigh. “This is even more confusing and frustrating than when we were trying to narrow down choices before mom and dad moved into the manor. But at least we had choice then. This…this is like a weird lottery system. You roll your dice and hope for the best.”
The Transitions Coordinator rose from her chair and made her way to the door. “I know it’s not an easy decision to make. But do remember, the sooner you make your decision, the sooner we can get your mother on the waiting lists and work on her transition.” Catherine nodded, holding the list of buildings in her hands. “This is ridiculous,” she thought.
What do you think of this week’s issue? What has been your experience with transitions? Did you have a better experience? Did you feel as though you had choice?
We would like to hear your real-life stories and any advice you have for our characters.