Compassion is not a “system”, nursing care not a set of rules

Kelly Egan, Ottawa Citizen

So, inevitably perhaps, we are going to have an outside investigation into “systemic” failures at Ottawa’s four municipally-run nursing homes. Why? Can someone tell me what kind of “system” prevents a personal care worker from asking a disabled woman, 85, with memory problems: “Why is it taking you so long to die?” Human beings are capable of monstrous behaviour, even those, evidently, trained to be care workers for the vulnerable. What kind of “system” would weed out a worker with a lack of empathy? How does a “system” know when the compassion reserves are empty for the month, or for all-time? How does a “system” know when a passionate, fresh-faced care provider has grown into an embittered, late-career, sack of anger? These are not holes in a system, these are failures of the heart. How do you “train” someone not to think, let alone utter, hideous things? (Let us not be as gloomy as a recent Twitter chirper who said “humans are garbage” is the explanation for about half the world’s worst problems, like mass ethnic cleansing.)

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