George flees hospital care

It has come to my attention that my father has fled the hospital that was supposed to be caring for him and ensuring his safety. He would’ve done this because he wants to be home, eating food in his house and maintaining his independence. However according to the system we have in place “he absconded this morning at around 7:45am.” My father is not a criminal but a victim yet he is the one considered to be absconding while the true criminal in this scenario can hide in plain sight.

If my father chooses to enter his home now he will have committed a crime for he has no comprehension that it could be possibly legal for him to have lost his home. Obviously such a destination is likely since he has only the cash I gave him and was only dressed in the bed clothes he was evicted in.

Currently we have family and friends looking for my father in likely places. Their support through this traumatic ordeal has been so inspiring and heart warming in such a bleak environment we find ourselves facing.

It is distressing that our family can be denied the authority to act in my father’s best interests by a government departement and instead have that authority bestowed on another department yet it is still left to our family to provide the care and protection of our father in extremely difficult circumstances for us.

I can respect that the role of a Public Guardian has limitations but as my brother so poignantly expressed, if one was to leave their child on the lawn just because they wanted to play and the child was hit by a car or went missing, such a person would be ridiculed by the community and most likely face criminal charges. However my father’s guardian provided no support from their office for their ward yesterday or the day before. Instead it was left for his son to camp outside his father’s home in attempt to safeguard him and ensure an eviction was not carried out with his father left totally unsupported.

That this scenario has been allowed to play out in this manner is despicable and unfortunately there does not appear to be a light at the end of the dark tunnel for our family. I can only hope that no other family has to suffer such a horrendous ordeal but sadly I can imagine that there are many other families similarly let down by the system and my thoughts and best wishes are with them too.

Update: I have been informed that my father has been found and returned to the hospital. It is unclear of his condition however I have been assured it isn’t a cause for extra concern. Plans in place by the guardian so far are for him to be placed temporarily in an aged care facility for him to receive a comprehensive geriatric assessment. More updates to follow.

Eviction update II

At approximately 8am this morning the NSW Sheriff and the NSW Police arrived at my father’s home to proceed with the eviction they had chosen to delay from yesterday with no further notice. Instead of my father experiencing such a traumatic event with the loving support of family and friends it was engineered that he be ripped from his home when he is unlikely to have a support network in place.

I was informed that the decision made yesterday to not proceed due to all the people and media present was not so their own actions wouldn’t be thoroughly held accountable but because they feared the scene would inspire my father to become more resistant (for show!). What kind of assessment is this?! They were knowledgeable that my father suffers from cognitive impairments. They are aware that he feels abandoned by the system. Yet they determine he would be more willing to cooperate when he is likely to feel thoroughly abandoned without family and friends supporting him during an event that showcases precisely how the system is being let down. Surely a man with questionable mental stability will act most unreasonably when they are despairing the most?

So fortunately I at least was present this morning. I had kept an eye out through the night since we had received no reassurement from the Sheriff’s office that a second attempt to conduct the eviction would occur at a reasonable hour. From the moment I saw the first car until officers reached the front gate I was unsuccessful in reaching any family members by phone to gather support and had to be relatively submissive to “requests” for entry as it was not in my father’s best interests to have me arrested and to be left all alone if the officers at the scene opted to react as impatiently and forcefully as their demeanour was suggesting.

At first I was to be kept entirely off the property to which I refused. I was not going to sit idly by as half a dozen officers converge on my anxious father without even being in earshot. So in the end I was allowed to remain partly down the walkway along the side of the house and was forced to have no role in easing the likely anxiety of my father.

It took the locksmith over an hour to gain full entry to the house which was not only avoidably traumatic for my father whom I’d overheard had been found cowering in the upstairs bathroom but for the locksmith himself who was so overwhelmed by the experience that he required ambulance assistance himself. I wish him a quick and full recovery from such an ordeal.

However despite the length of time, the obvious stress placed on the locksmith, and the voicing of my concerns that we hadn’t seen or heard from my dad since this eviction had begun, it was clearly being deemed that the risk of my dad having had collapsed from the stress long ago was worth the manageability of an undamaged property that could be easily secured once again in the favour of the banks.

Thankfully, and in all honesty incredibly, my father was still relatively alright, obviously distressed, and officers managed to escort him off the property without the use of force. However a big reason behind that was that even until the moment he was placed into a police car to be taken to hospital to be assessed he was still not understanding the magnitude of what had just happened and that he may not ever enter his home of over 40 years again.

This was made even more clear once my brother and I were allowed to finally see him in the hospital a few hours later. By that time he was eager to leave and return home because he still hadn’t eaten since yesterday and the simplicity of eating in his home is a practice that comforts and reassures him. Having been denied breakfast due to the eviction and with it not quite lunch time in the hospital apparently still no food was available to him anyway.

So my father was desperate to leave and, as has become a regular occurence since his financial management and guardianship has been issued to parties other than his family, my brother and I could only reject him rather than offer support for his wishes or provide manageable alternatives. With a police order on my father still in place confining him to the hospital’s care for now, and witnessing my father get more distressed and resentful towards me when all I want to do is comfort him and assure him that he is not alone and we can still find a way to fight this injustice, I was completely shattered.

My father felt so rejected and let down that he wanted us to leave him, and as much as it broke my heart I just didn’t have it in me to distress him further in my attempts to comfort him that have no chance of working in this cruelly managed environment that has been orchestrated for our family to navigate.

Knowing that my father was likely to attempt an escape at some point if left there for much longer and knowing that he would even at his age walk for miles if he was desperate and distressed, I was compelled to give him some cash since he was still in his bed clothes to ease any future journey if he took that path. Then I had to turn my back on him, and it broke my heart.

Earlier my brother and I had been informed of the initial assessment of my father by a doctor, mental health expert and social worker. It was deemed that he had no immediate physical concerns that required hospitalisation or care but that his apparent cognitive impairments were of enough of a concern considering the type of event that had just occurred that would rule out the temporary relocation of my father to a Port Stephens residence partly owned by my mother as there was no doubt that within a day or two he’d be back in Sydney trying to gain entry to his home.

At that point it was clear to me that since caring for my father had been made so unmanageable for us we had no option but to try to support a comprehensive assessment from geriatric specialists. The only major concern I raised was that we would certainly not support an assessment that did not offer my father the respect and professionalism of involving a Greek speaking doctor or interpreter. It’s bad enough that the system can still somehow honour a Power of Attorney for my father that was certified by a non-Greek speaking lawyer but to assess a man’s mental condition when you can’t even speak a language he is comfortable in using would be the most insane aspect of such an assessment. Thankfully the medical and social professionals we spoke to seemed respectful of such a request.

So having left our father in the ward, my brother and I left a voicemail for our only contact person there so that we could update her. After over an hour in the waiting room and receiving no response (which is of no discredit to the social worker who was no doubt run off her feet) we felt confident that there was no foreseeable change in the scenario. My father was under a police order and not allowed to leave. My family’s option of temporary relocation was no longer feasible and having been denied authority to act as guardians for my father there was no point of us getting distressed hanging around the hospital when we could no longer provide comfort for our father or have the authority to create an environment where we just might.

My brother and I left to fight our battles elsewhere and to try to recharge. Having barely shut my eyes for three days straight the emotional gravity and hopelessness of the situation was beginning to take its toll on me and I felt physically overwhelmed. I took a little time out to try to recover and my brother was awesome in being able to support me by receiving some of the important phone calls that I just couldn’t. It was revealed that incredibly the hospital apparently wanted to release him now and that somehow it was ethical for them to do so and of minimal risk!

How is it that I cannot be issued with the authority to manage either my father’s financial or lifestyle affairs yet it is upon me they wish to dump the responsibility of providing for the unmanageable man that they have shaped?! This is just inhumane.

That’s all I can bring myself to update for now. I am completely shattered. I am scared for the welfare of my father but feel powerless to make this scenario manageable for either him or me, let alone both. I am not broken but I cannot keep fighting this battle on every front. It’s not sustainable. I can only hope that any resentment he may feel towards me is not the final impression he’ll have of me and that I can live with myself if the Public Guardian fails to step up and my father just becomes another tragic statistic for a government department.

Thankfully I have friends and loved ones who’ll support me get through this setback and assist me regain some strength, composure and determination. Unfortunately the authorities deemed that providing my father with such a support network through this experience was unwise and sadly things will never be the same for him again…

Eviction update

My father was scheduled to be evicted from his home of over 40 years at 1:30pm on Tuesday 26 June 2012. Obviously there was a moderate crowd in attendance to not only show their support for my poor father but to respectfully voice their outrage at the failure of the justice system. Media crew were also in attendance.

A police car was first on the scene to briefly assess the situation (which was clearly not threatening) before the punctual arrival of the Sheriff and what appeared to be the locksmith. However the Sheriff’s vehicle did not remain in the street for long before they went around the corner and appeared to consult with the police and no doubt their office by phone before leaving the scene entirely.

Having been informed of this I proceeded to call the Sheriff’s Office to be updated on why the eviction did not proceed as was notified and when our family could expect their return or notice of such. Their office informed me that the eviction was not carried out as notified due to the presence of the media and that they had no further obligation to notify us and could therefore arrive at any moment to carry out their duty.

Wow! So we have a scenario where public servants are unwilling to perform their duties under wider public scrutiny. Why is that? It clearly isn’t the honourable motive of trying to safeguard the privacy and dignity of my father. Their disregard for that is obvious with their creation of a scenario that potentially involves him being locked out of his home without the organised support of his family and friends who’ll have no idea when this rescheduled eviction attempt will arise. It could be overnight, the next morning or weeks from now. How cruelly traumatic such an experience would be for a person with cognitive impairments who must already feel abandoned in so many ways.

So authorisation was given to seriously jeopardise the welfare of a human being and the sanity of his family in order to minimise the risk of public servants being held accountable for their apparently justified duties. How is this happening?! There is no misunderstanding here. No contrary explanations that can be conjured up after the fact. For no attempt was made to communicate any concerns their officers may have had upon arrival with the occupant. No request was made to remove the media presence in order for a supported eviction to still proceed as notified. Also, the environment could not be evaluated as too threatening for the officers to carry out their duties as they’d originally been ordered to. Yet this even more heartless outcome was reached nonetheless.

So now what? Your guess is as good as mine. My father and our family have few remaining rights in this scenario. No right for an adequate investigation. No right for justice. No right for a sensitive approach in what ought to be deemed as an understandably delicate situation. No right to be notified and have at least some peace of mind. However my father has every right to be severely distressed and in no position to cooperate adequately with the Sheriff’s Office in such a state yet there isn’t a single elected representative brave enough to voice their concern over the handling of this issue which is incredibly disappointing.

Sadly, it is becoming more and more clear that under the current justice system it is being deemed in the best interests of the community that the welfare of financial institutions be placed above that of citizens. What a disgrace. So we must suffer more however that will not silence us.

The sincerest of thanks to all those who came out in support of my family today. Your hearts have touched ours.