Fees charged to involuntary residential care resident waived and reviewed

Authority Vancouver Island Health Authority

Murray contacted us after Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) staff used the Mental Health Act to involuntarily admit Joan, his wife of 50 years, to a mental health facility and then transfer her to residential care.

At the time Joan was admitted as an involuntary patient, she and Murray had been living in a makeshift suite in the home of one of their daughters. Since Joan was recently discharged from the hospital, members of VIHA’s Elderly Outreach Service team had come to visit the couple. The team assessed the suite as unsafe and believed the couples’ living environment put Joan at risk and that she should move to residential care. Joan did not have the legal capacity to consent to admission and had not appointed a representative who could make that decision on her behalf. Although he was not her legal representative, Murray wanted to continue to care for Joan at home.

A doctor with VIHA certified Joan as an involuntary patient under the Mental Health Act and admitted her to a mental health facility. Then, with the authorization of a second doctor, she was promptly put on extended leave under that Act and then placed in a residential care facility. After transferring Joan on an involuntary basis to residential care, VIHA assessed a user charge for Joan and the facility began to charge her fees for those services.

Murray thought it was unfair to hold her in the residential care facility against her will and charge fees. Murray was concerned that his visits with his wife were restricted and he did not know why. Also, Joan was not placed in the community where he lived, which made visiting her very difficult for him. We investigated the fairness of VIHA’s procedures in regards to Joan’s residential care, including the charging of fees, the restrictions on Murray’s visits to the facility and her placement outside of the community where Murray lived.

VIHA agreed to not charge Joan fees and also indicated that it was reviewing its practice in this area. Murray’s visits to his wife resumed following discussions with the facility and his wife’s psychiatrist. After VIHA learned of the difficulties Murray was having as a result of needing to travel to visit Joan, she was given the highest transfer priority and about a month later was transferred to the community where Murray lived.

Category Health, Seniors
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2011
Location Vancouver Island / Sunshine Coast