An 84-year-old couple is fighting for their freedom after being forcefully detained in Vancouver Island hospitals for months.
Pamela and Douglas Allen said they were committed after going to Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital in early January looking for a new doctor.
Court documents show they were diagnosed with dementia and deemed incapable of caring for themselves.
Lawyer Jonathan Aiyadurai said the Allens were “whisked upstairs to the fourth floor, the geriatric area, and held against their will in a lockdown facility.”
They were eventually moved to Victoria General Hospital, where they’ve spent weeks yearning for their old lives. They filmed a statement from their room to be used in their bid for release in B.C. Supreme Court.
In the footage, Douglas can be seen strapped down to his bed by a restraining vest their lawyer calls a “modern-day straight jacket.”
The couple describes how they’d been staying at a seniors’ independent living facility, where they said they were assisted by nurses and cleaners.
“We want to go and live our lives as we were before,” says Pamela, who turns 85 on Sunday. “We think it’s very bad [to] take two old people like us.”
The Vancouver Island Health Authority told CTV News it’s standing by its decision.
According to the court documents, the Allens were diagnosed with poor nutrition and a range of health conditions before they were committed under the Mental Health Act.
“When a vulnerable person is not able to safely care for themselves, or we receive a report of abuse, neglect or self-neglect, we have a responsibility under the Adult Guardianship Act to respond to protect the person's safety and well-being,” the health authority said in a statement.
The Allens’ lawyer argues they’re suffering unnecessarily in the hospital’s care, and are capable of living on their own with the proper support.
“They know where they are, they know why they’ve been put there, they know where they want to go and they know that they don’t want to be in the hospital.”