Law and Lore of Autonomy and Mental Health Disabilities
May 12, 2015
Hosted by Dr. Gordon Atherley
Marni Soupcoff, a lawyer, is a newspaper columnist and Executive Director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, and previously served the Institute for Justice. She describes her work and experience with family caregiving. She explains autonomy and highlights the challenges it creates for families and family caregivers caring for family members with mental illness or brain damage who may be unable to make decisions in their own best interests. She discusses the challenges created for privacy and social justice laws and for medical practice by autonomy when its lore is applied to individuals living with mental illness or brain damage. She says what more she would like to do and see done to advance understanding of autonomy’s implications for individuals, their families and family caregivers. She shares her message for family caregivers without substitute decision-maker who encounter difficulties getting their alerts listened to by psychiatrists and other healthcare professionals.
Family Caregivers Unite!
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Family caregivers are the people who provide care to partners, parents, children, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, neighbors and even co-workers. They are the people who provide care when everyone else has gone home. They are the people who organize the functioning of the home for the person with special needs, and for the family as a whole. They are the coordinators of care, the managers of appointments, the preventers of loneliness, and the makers of decisions even to the point of Power of Attorney. And they are so often people who themselves are burdened with their own health challenges and who may be in only marginally better health than the persons to whom they are providing family caregiving.
Dr. Gordon Atherley
Dr Gordon Atherley holds the British equivalent of the Canadian PhD and MD degrees, and LLD, Honoris Causa, from Canada’s Simon Fraser University. His awards include Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, UK. His medical specialties are occupational medicine and public health.
As first President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, the Canadian equivalent of the US National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, he led the creation of Canada’s electronic information service in occupational health and safety, now used in more than 40 countries.
In academia, he held senior, tenured, full-time positions, including departmental chair, in university faculties of physics, engineering, and medicine. He is the author of a textbook and numerous articles and publications.
Since retiring from medical practice, he’s built up Greyhead Associates, which critically researches the safety, effectiveness and fairness of health services for persons with special needs.
Through Virtual Care International, a company of which he’s President, he’s involved in providing sensible technology to family caregivers to help them with their responsibilities, workloads, and concerns.
Now an activist, he urges family caregivers to unite because, more and more, it’s not just their families who depend on them, it’s also the healthcare system as a whole, as it struggles to meet more and more needs of more and more people.