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Seniors want to go home

A story all too familiar -- two seniors who feel they’re being held against their will in an elderly care facility.

Just last month an similar couple from Victoria brought legal action against the Vancouver Island Health Authority, after they felt they were unjustly committed to hospital under the mental health act.

Now in Kelowna, Floyd and Chris Nighswonger claim they were placed in an Interior Health facility earlier this year. Floyd had fallen ill and had trouble walking, making it impossible to care for his bedridden wife, who suffered a stroke in 2006.

“I think you can do it now, you can look after me,” says Chris, who is referring to her husband’s abilities now that he is over his ailment.

Floyd is able to walk again, and says his home in Kelowna is equipped with the necessary equipment to care for his wife.

“She had her stroke in 2006. That adds up to eight years. I’ve been taking care of her for eight years,” he says.

The couple say they haven’t been committed to the facility, and once tried to leave, but were stopped.

“We packed everything up and were ready to go home the next morning. And lo and behold, somebody, and we don’t know who to this day, cancelled (the taxi),” explains Floyd.

“We’ve got an apartment, it’s a good one, (and) it’s paid for. So now we’re paying here and we’re also keeping things up there, but we haven’t been home in a long time.”

Floyd told Castanet News that he and his wife have been kept in the facility since March, but Interior Health would not confirm any specifics of the case, citing confidentiality reasons.

However, they do say that they’re working on bringing the couple home, but it will take some time.

“I don’t have a specific timeframe right now, just know that we are working with the couple. That is to say given the individual circumstances of that couple, we will be working with them to do it as expeditiously as possible,” says Bryan Redford with the Interior Health Authority.

IH says it’s a complicated situation with many factors involved, including legislation.

“They’re in the care facility based on their care needs, their requests, their family’s requests, and their care provider’s requests,” says Redford.

“So it’s a combination of things that create that.”

While Interior Health is considering other options for the Nighswonger’s, red tape seems to be preventing the couple from what they want the most.

“We want to be free and go home,” says Floyd.

-- Ragnar Haagen and Jennifer Zielinski


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