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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 2, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta "I V District The Lethbridge Herald news SECOND SECTION Lethbridge, Alberta, Saturday, March Pages g to 2Q Released after 20 years in mental homes I 8 I After more than 20 years of living in a mental hospital, Ruth and Jane are now gut living a normal life in a modern L'ethbridge apartment. They are happy and luckier, they feel, than some former fellow patients who they think should also be allowed to leave. By GEOftGE STEPHENSON Herald Staff Writer 1 1 I i i The patients in Raymond Home, which until 1972 was an Alberta mental hospital, are not even given a chance to be rehabilitated for eventual release, they say The right of patients to leave is clouded in confusion because of contradicting statements from the department of health which recently transferred the home from its mental health branch to its homes and instrtutions branch. Ruth and Jane (not their real names) contend and workers with the Canadian Mental Health Association agree that there are some patients in the home who could be released now. Others could be rehabilitated with that goal in mind. "The government should be getting this done There should be machinery set up to get these people rehabilitated and setting up life says June Tagg, Lethbridge regional chairman for CMHA direct services. 'Little effort' And Ruth adds there is little evidence of such "Nobody has made much of an effort to help the severely ill." A psychiatrist used to visit all the patients about once a year but in the past few years the visits were discontinued, Ruth claims Alice Birt, a psychiatric nurse and director of the home since its opening in 1939, claims a psychiatrist is not necessary at the home "Their (the patients') psychosis is already determined and any treatment has already been given before they come to she says. Ms. Tagg disagrees. "Just because they had treatment 15 years ago doesn't mean they should be neglected now they have been forgotten people long she says. Ruth and Jane echo Ms Tagg's statement, saying it is considered bad luck to end up in Raymond and many of the patients want to be transferred to Claresholm. another government home. They say more therapy could be carried on by nursing attendants at Raymond who "seem to stick to the necessities of meals, medications and baths for the patients." "Need socializing' There are few activities and most of those are operated by the mental health association which cannot provide all that is necessary, says Ms. Tagg Jane adds: "If even a social worker came out to the home, more could be done more socializing between patients and others is needed." There were more privileges, she says, at Alberta Hospital Ponoka where she was allowed to go into the town without a nurse escort, and where a psychiatrist was available to discuss individual problems. Ruth says she "could hardly see" when released. She claims there are no eye tests for the patients at Raymond and those with no family or pension have to go without such things as deodorant. "The home supplies the soap." she says. She says although there is a sewing room at the home, where dresses are made from new material brought from The Raymond Home rehabilitation role and patients' right to leave in dispute Claresholm, she only received one new housecoat in the 15 years she was at Raymond "Sometimes you could get a second hand dress people sent in or if you knew the staff you could get one from the sewing she says. Idle hands A seamstress is on staff at the home many are releaseed as competent." She contradicts statements by the department of health and social development which say the home is not based on the idea the patients will someday be ready to resume life in society. A spokesman for the department says the institution cannot aim for that objective "The institution would not be aimed at eventual release because most and Miss Birt says patients can work in patients are the geriatric type and the the sewing room if they wish She adds the home tries to keep patients busy working in arts and crafts type activities or the laundry or kitchen "Idle hands are not she says. The dormitories remain locked during the day and women in the home who want to rest or sleep must do so on the floor Other activities include knitting and rug hooking, under the guidance of an occupational therapist, a movie once a week and occasional dances, Miss Birt says. She claims these and the home's "reiuotivation class" help the patients become well enough to leave.'4 Miss Birt says the class is held "once and awhile weekly." The patients discuss various topics and subjects. Ms. Tagg says although the program could be an advantage to the patients, there should be programs "developed right across the board to help patients develop life skills." A Lethbridge psychiatrist told The Herald change should begin with a reassessment of all patients in a different setting than the home such as the psychiatric ward of the Lethbridge Municipal Hospital. The psychiatrist adds if the patients are not being seen by a psychiatrist then they should be "sifted through to find the ones who can be rehabilitated or released." 'Lots leave' Miss Birt says there are "lots (of patients) leave but I don't know how likelihood is they would not be able to funciton outside." Actually, patients, unless they are "under certificate" (declared incompetent) have the legal right to leave anytime. Most patients in Raymond have been declared competent. But there is considerable confusion. On one hand, the director of homes and institutions, Dick Mead, says although the patients have that right they are encouraged to stay "by the director of the home." Because most of the patients in Raymond Home are transfers from mental hospitals they must be encouraged lo stay for their own safety. They would have no place to go if they were just allowed to walk away, he says. Contradictions Yet a local supervisor told The Herald if a patient has been "decertified" (declared competent) the patient can leave the home and nothing would be done. Different "agencies" would be informed they had left but they would not be restrained from leaving, he says. And still another opinion Miss Birt contradicts department of health spokesmen "contacted by The Herald. She claims patients can only leave permanently if she declares them competent. She says she visits the patients once they have left and decides whether they should be given a total release. Ruth and Jane are on "a temporary leave of absence pending Miss Birt will visit the two in March to decide whether they are she claims. Mr. Mead also says people released do not have to be declared competent but need only a psychiatric assessment before they are released and follow-up care in the. community. But adding further confusion are Ruth and Jane who say they have not seen a psychiatrist in the past few years they were released. Transferred The confusion seems.to have- resulted from the Raymond1 HSifflb beingt transferred from the mental health- branch to the homes and institutions branch inside the provincial department of health and social development. Miss Birt says there was no change in the actual operation of the home but 'under homes and institutions the facility can receive a federal government grant and costs are now shared. The psychiatrist interviewed says a major problem seems to be that Raymond patients and their relatives do not know their rights and so stop pressing for release when told it is hopeless. For example, Ruth and Jane were released 15 months after Miss Birt said they would never be released in the community. A volunteer with the association, who requested her name be withheld, says she approached Miss Birt with the idea of releasing the two but was told there was no chance they could make it in society. Similar efforts started six months later proved successful when Ms. Tagg approached the regional supervisor of the department of health and social development before informing Miss Birt of her intention. They never knew Ruth and Jane say they were never aware they could just walk out of the home. Miss Birt says those who do leave are rarely able to withstand life outside the home. "Many times they just throw away their medication and they can't manage without she says. Miss Birt will, she says, continue to send drugs to the patients outside the home "they only have to write for it." Within (he home Miss Bift administers drugs as the patients need them. f "They are on medication when they come'and this-is continued (also) I know the signs of various problems and know what medication is she claims. The Lethbridge psychiatrist suggests there are ethical and legal considerations in administering drugs "especially psychhtric drugs" to patients that have not seen a psychiatrist in years. Prescriptions for physical ailments are handled by local physicians in Raymond. Two patients are taken to the doctor every week for physical examinations so every patient has at least one examination a year, says Miss Birt Dentists visits A dentist comes to the home twice a year to check the patient's teeth The Raymond Home was built in the 1930's as an agricultural school and became a mental hospital in 1939. The home, which has 65 women patients with an average age of 65, is three storeys high and the older patients-cannot get up and down the stairs "There are no homes built anymore that are more than one she says. The windows in the home are suited for school use but the patients have to stand to see outdoors. The home employs 36 people including 16 nursing attendants, three cooks, a laundress, and seven maintenance men who also take care of the garden and greenhouse Besides Miss Birth there is one other registered nurse on staff. I I I Outline of rights to be circulated Literature advising mental patients and relatives of their rights and what to expect .from treatment is being prepared by the Canadian Mental Health Association in Alberta. The material, expected to be ready for distribution this spring, is being developed in co-operation with the Mental Health Advisory Council and Alberta Mental Health Services. W G. Coombs, executive director of CMHA Alberta, says the information will be sent to patients and relatives of people in the Raymond Home despite that institution being transferred from the mental health branch of government to homes and institutions. "The association is still interested in patients in places such as Claresholm and Raymond their status has changed but our interest has he explains Mr. Coombs points out there is still confusion over the transfer of patients between the two departments and some implications involving their rights have not been solved. In Claresholm and Raymond, Mr. Coombs says, it will probably take considerable effort to teach patients their rights. people have been there so long and institutionalized so long they have probably lost interest in pushing these things." he adds. Education Week Schools to open doors to parents, public Courage, diligence honored A Grade 5 student at Senator Buchanan School will replace Robert Plaxton as superintendent of public schools for one day during education week which begins Monday. Robert Windrum. 10. was named superinlendent-for-a- day when his essay on "My Teacher" was selected as the winner in an education week essay contst for Grade 4.5 and 6 students in the public schools. He will take over Dr. Plaxton "s office Tuesday. The superintendent-for-a- day idea is just one of several activities planned for separate and public schools during education week. Most schools in Lethbridge will be holding open house for the public during education week Some schools will even have special displays and activities for the public to see and attend. The Assumption school will hold an open house Tuesday and parent-teacher interviews Wednesday. Students will take parents on guided tours through the Agnes Davidson School Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Senator Buchanan School hold open house Monday but no special activities are planned so "parents may see and hear whet normally goes on." A school fair that includes video tape presentations, displays and a bake sale is to be held Wednesday at the Galbrailh School The Dorothy Gooder School has scheduled parent-teacher interviews for Thursday and Friday and will hold open house Friday. The education week theme at Hamilton Junior High School is "This Is How It Is" and every classroom will be open to the public all week. An art show is to be held at the Lakeview School all during education week and open house will be held Wednesday afternoon. Parents will also be invited to participate in an options program Friday. The George School will hold classroom visits and an open house that includes student displays ewry day during education week. Education week at St. Basil's School will feature a book fair, parent-teacher interviews a'id a carnival of activities The Genera] Stewart School will have parent teacher interviews, classroom visits and open noose all day every day during education week Students will take over the role of principal, vice- principal and librarian Wednesday at the Westminster School. On the same day the school will hold room visitations and a tea and bake sale. Parents are invited to visit the Wilson Junior High School and its classrooms Wednesday. Evening talks and discussion by icachers for parents are to be held at the Fieetwood Bawden School Monday and Wednesday. The school will also hold open house in Grade 3 to 6 Tuesday. Grades 1 arid 2 Wednesday and an open lionise in the evenings Thursday and Friday for parents of students in Grade 3 to 6. Winston Churchill High School will hold parent- advi.sVr conferences Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and again'from 7 to 9 p m. Two city policemen were honored at the annual police awards banquet Friday night for outstanding performance during 1973. Patrol Sgt. Donald Hunt was given an award for courage, and Const. Bill Plomp was given an award for outstanding police work. Sgt. Hunt received his award for disarming a man who came into the police station with a loaded shotgun and held several policemen at bay for about five minutes. A Lethbridge resident had reported his front window had been shot out. Station Set Gordon Stevens was on the radio dispatching cars to the scene when a man came into the police station, pointed his shotgun at Sgt. Stevens and demanded that he call the manager of a local hotel to the station so he could kill him. Sgt. Hunt started talking to the man who then turned the gun on Sgt. Hunt. Sgt. Hunt persuaded him to lay the gan on the counter, when the sergeant made a move toward the weapon, the man grabbed it and discharged it. No one was injured. The man was arrested and charged with pointing a firearm. After a period of observation at Alberta Hospital Ponoka he was declared lit to stand trial and was given a two-year suspended sentence. Const Plomp's sward resulted from intense investigation, much of it on his own time, which resulted in the clearing up of 12 break- ins in Lethbridge and an armed robbery in Calgary. Through Const. Plomp's efforts Terry Lee Flint, 19, was arrested in Yorktown. Sasfe Aug 9 and brought back to Lethbridge. While questioning Flint about the Lethbndge break-ins. Const. Plomp uncovered the fact that Flint was responsiMe for the Aug 5 armed robbery of the Sherwood Motel in Calgary. SGT, HUNT Flint pleaded guilty to all Hiarges and was sentenced to three years in prison. Receiving 25-year bars at the banquet were Chief Ralph Micnelson and Staff Sgt Bill BrummilS Certificates for advanced training were presented to CONST. PLOMP various members of the force. Nearly every member of the force was involved in at least one advanced training <.-onrse during the year, said Insp. Max Coupland Awards and certificates for proficiency were also presented ;