We had a 1st year anniversary back in May, as that was when we first heard that Mom may, or may not, be involved in what may, or may not, be abuse.
Then we had another 1st year anniversary in August, as that was when we were given confirmation that mom was definitely a victim of abuse.
We are acknowledging yet another 1st year anniversary, as this is the time; September, October, and November; that we floundered in a black abyss that was filled with aloneness and heartache.
In December we will observe a couple more 1st year anniversaries. The 1st year anniversary of meeting our partner organization, A Perfect Cause, and the 1st year anniversary of the birth of Families Against Nursing Home Abuse Support and Advocacy Group.
Through all of these firsts, we have taken steps. Steps down a path on which we never wanted to walk. Steps on a road that would change our lives and the lives of our families forever. Steps that would change the way I look at the world and how it works.
I remember all the phone calls, and the desperate feeling of needing to change something. I remember how I couldn't understand how I couldn't get any answers to my questions. I remember the feelings of being ignored; of feeling that our situation was of no importance; of feeling invisible.
Our local Ombudsman kept telling me through all of this, that our voices were important. That we would be heard farther and wider then any other advocate, because we had lived the nightmare. She was a constant source of encouragement and hope. But for all of that, I couldn't help but wonder why things weren't even being talked about.
TV talk shows called and wanted interviews. But when push came to shove, they didn't want an interview with the victims families, they wanted an interview with the perpetrators. That would bring much higher ratings then listening to us.
I remember all the phone calls and face to face meetings with Senators and Congressman; with retired public officials and with those currently in office. I remember the high hope that I had coming away from those meetings, and the low of yet another disappointment when all the promises made to us had been forgotten, and we never heard from them again.
What has this all to do with the steps on this path? Well, I guess it means that we have to walk through the weeds and the tangled vines, and feel that horrible sense of being lost, before we can be so grateful to come into the green fields with sun shining.
Oh, don't get me wrong. There are definitely a lot of clouds out there yet, and I imagine more then a few storms, but I feel like the steps I've been taking are beginning to take me somewhere. So far, that somewhere has been to forming our own support and advocacy group, meeting and partnering with A Perfect Cause, speaking at conventions, conferences and group meetings, and now, to the Vulnerable Adult Justice Project committee for the State of Minnesota.
Families Against Nursing Home Abuse Support and Advocacy Group was invited, and given, a seat on the Vulnerable Adult Justice Project. This committee/project began in 2007 as a broad stakeholder group committed to reform of MN’s Vulnerable Adult Act and related laws.
The Vulnerable Adult Justice Project (VAJP) is a collaboration that brings together expertise from the perspectives and professions whose mission includes safeguarding and advocating for vulnerable adults. These include public advocacy organizations (Ombudsman for Long-Term Care, Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, Disability Law Center, the federal Protection and Advocacy agency), elder and disability organizations (AARP, Alzheimer’s Association, ElderCare Rights Alliance, MNALL, Mental Health Association, The ARC), Health Care Providers (Care Providers of MN, Aging Services of MN, Home Care Association, Hospital Association), the Aging Network, Guardianship Association, Labor unions, City prosecutors, County Adult Protection and prosecutors, the Office of Attorney General, Department of Health and the Department of Human Services, the private bar (attorneys in elder law), and law schools (University of St. Thomas School of Law and William Mitchell College of Law). The VAJP is administratively housed and supported by the Center for Elder Justice and Policy at the William Mitchell College of Law. Students in the Center have opportunities to do supervised legal research on policy issues for the VAJP. Adjunct Professor, Iris C. Freeman, serves as Coordinator.
We are so excited to be a part of this committee and to have a voice within the State of Minnesota's political realm. My fervent prayer is that our voices will be heard, and that we can effect change that will protect those people currently in nursing homes, and all those who will be entering a long term care facility in the future.
Steps. Small steps. Sad steps. Shuffled steps. Slow steps. Hesitant steps. They all bring you somewhere. Now, we begin to walk with Hopeful Steps.