Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pulled hair, dangling feet, gross abuse

C's wheelchair: still minus a footrest for her left foot
I am this close to tearing out my greying hair.

The overburdened but apathetic staff at C.'s school is testing my limits. Starting at the top.

The most senior administrator hides out in her office with her door shut from nine to five every day of the week.  Admittedly, she isn't the school principal. But is it unreasonable to ask that she occasionally emerge and interact with the children, teachers, and aides? (And perhaps even with the one parent who brings her child, namely yours truly?) A bit of input from her might rescue the place from the doldrums.

C. has now been seated in class in a broken wheelchair for two weeks. Every possible approach has been tried: I've lamented, complained, gently reminded and offered to personally approach the maintenance guy, all to no avail. "Leave it me. I'll take care of it today. Don't worry" has been the teacher's repeated response. 

He claimed, ten days after the footrest fell off, that the initial delay occurred because the physiotherapist - who, he says, is entrusted with wheelchair care - thought that the wheelchair was ours, not the school's. 

Well, that misinformation must have been tough to rectify. Because here we are, days later, with C.'s left foot still dangling.

The second footrest is mis-positioned so it only supports her right foot partially. The physiotherapists have warned me in no uncertain terms that the feet must be supported. 

But after reading the headline below, dangling feet hardly merit a mention.

"Police detain staff over abuse at mental hospital"

Over 70 staff members, including doctors and therapists, were detained for alleged neglect, assault, physical and sexual abuse or of failure to report those abuses. The residents, ranging in age from 20 to 70, were victimized over several years.

Clearly, the system is rotten to the core. 
Illustrative photo: REUTERS/Jianan Yu
But I also wonder about the parents, some of whom told reporters they were aware that their children were being beaten. "We are a devastated family." said one mother “We don’t sleep. We live in fear that tonight he will be hit or they will inject him.”

I don't see how "not sleeping" was helping her son. Parents need to be vocal, pro-active, aggressive and, dare I say the word, pesty. These large, unwieldy, remote and unsupervised institutions must go.

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