My Books For Your Reading Pleasure

My Books For Your Reading Pleasure
Proud Indie Author

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Marlon de Souza on Homelessness


This morning I got on the train and right there on one of the seats was a homeless man, with a trolley filled with his stuff, numerous giant plastic bags and a couple of smaller ones. He smelled. I looked away from him as I wanted to get away, to another car, or at least to the other end of the car I’d entered. I don’t know how he came to be homeless, or if he was mentally and psychologically beyond being able to help himself. He probably was. What can I do for him, more than helping him with a dollar or some food, I thought. I found a seat about twenty feet away and kept leaning forward to see his face, but he was hunched over. There were other people seated closer to him. Like me, no one did a thing. No one can do anything, I thought, to bring about lasting change to someone in this situation. Unless you dedicate all your energy to saving someone. Then maybe. But if they’re not saving themselves or if they’re not able to or have any desire to, what then? What can be done? What can be done? What can be done if, like me, you choose to not devote all you have to helping the homeless or those in need who cannot help themselves? I don’t know. It’s a good question to contemplate on, I now feel.

I looked into my bag to see if I had a piece of fruit or food I could share, but all I had was bread and an avocado. And I didn’t want to give away all my bread and the man had no teeth, I remembered from the very brief glimpse I got of him earlier. I was aware I was justifying my not wanting to share the bread I really liked. But also, when I’ve tried to share my food with toothless homeless people, they’ve often declined the food and asked for money instead. I wanted to go up and talk to the man but what if he didn’t want to talk to me? I didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of the other people in the car, people I would never again see and whose opinion of me did not and should not matter. But it also could have been intrusive to go up and talk to a homeless person just because the person is homeless…what if he saw it as pity, what if it was pity – I don’t like to be pitied when I’m down, not sure that others do…it’s not like I was sitting next to him and starting a conversation just like that.

I decided to give him some money instead. My stop was coming up, so I walked up to the door nearest the man and gave him the money. He thanked me in what sounded like a female voice. I looked at the person’s face. It was a woman. She was old and wrinkled and she had no teeth. She looked tired and weary. She looked at the bill I gave her. I tried to not stare at her and instead looked at her from my peripheral vision. I wanted to talk to her…to talk to her. I looked out from the corner of my eye to see if others would be inspired to give her money too. No one else did, at least not until I got off the train. I wish I could have spoken to her for a little bit. I wonder if she feels alone. I wonder how she feels. I’ll never know. I realized that even if I gave her a hundred dollars, it probably would not change her situation. Still, it’s not enjoyable to have no place to live and no one to take care of you or to be unable to take care of yourself. No one consciously chooses to be homeless. Things happen. It could be me. It could be me. I wish you comfort and peace, lady.

© 2014 Marlon de Souza. All rights reserved

Marlon de Souza writes. Among his teachers are water bodies, Robert Louis Stevenson, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, Pete Seeger, His Royal Highness Wolfgang the First, Leonard Cohen, and his friend and dog-child, Jules. More of his work can be found on

Saturday, January 25, 2014

My thoughts on PSWs and nursing/retirement homes

Personal Support Workers in hospitals and especially in retirement homes are overworked and underpaid.  It is painful to think of the terrible fire in Quebec where there are 52 people; some in walkers and wheelchairs; some who cannot move fast enough to escape the fire. On staff  we are told there were only two people. Do we really think two people should be able to handle 52 patients in an emergency situation at night? Are the staffing odds any better here in Elliot Lake? We expect way too much of our PSW's. And yet we pay them a pittance for providing a much needed service. Don't we care about our mothers and our grandmothers; our fathers and our grandfathers?  Don't we want them to have the best possible care in their very old age?   Certainly we want them to have better care than they are receiving, don't we?  And don't we care about the people who take on the job of caring for them? I guess not. For shame!

I've never been a PSW but I can imagine that if I were I would not want to be one of only two people on staff at night ....... or imagine, horror of horrors, being the only staff person on duty at night. Elderly people do not always sleep soundly and also it is said that the older we get the less sleep we require. I don't picture the one or two PSW's having little to do throughout a night. Staffing in all retirement homes should be at a higher level overnight in my opinion. It is a shame that most elderly people dread the thought of having to go into a home in their very old age. We need to do better for our elders in this country. 

PSW's need to be more highly paid and respected for the training they have received and for the work they carry out. Privatized and indeed all retirement homes need to have more strict inspections and higher standards for their residents and for their staff.

Possibly things are relatively quiet between midnight and 5 a.m. but few PSW's work less than an eight hour shift ..... and when they are not interacting with patients I understand they are kept busy doing housework and laundry. I can't comment on conditions in U.S. but here in Canada I know that generally speaking the personal support workers are overworked and definitely underpaid for all that they are expected to do. From the standpoint of safety I believe that more than two people should be working the night shift and I believe it should NEVER  be one person on her/his own. What if that one person is ill or endangered in any way? Big change is needed in retirement homes; especially those that are privatized. And all nursing/retirement homes should have functioning sprinkler systems throughout. 

The fact that half the sprinklers in the Quebec retirement home were not working has resulted in an even greater tragedy.  

My heart and my thoughts are with these  residents and with their families.

And my thoughts and respect are with the personal support workers across this country who dedicate themselves to caring for our elders.  Their business is to offer support.  How sad that they receive such little support in return for all that they do for us.

While I have been discussing PSWs who work in retirement homes, I am reminded that we cannot forget the home care PSWs who go alone into homes often not knowing what they are walking into and, yes, they go into these homes alone. I understand they also do transfers alone and while their scope of practice expands their wage rates are capped.  They are left to struggle on insufficient pay to support themselves and their own families.  Why is it that PSWs are not deemed essential services like doctors or nurses? Where would we be without them and their dedication? There is no question that health care in Ontario and in all of Canada needs reform.

Change is needed and it is needed now.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Kindle Promotion this weekend ..

Kindle edition of short story titled "Quest for Cammirand" is free tomorrow, Saturday January 4th.

Then on Sunday, January 5th enjoy "Keeping It Simple", Kindle Edition, free for one day only.

Check them out  at my author page

A review of Quest for Cammirand
I read the very exciting and mysterious story. You did a wonderful work Audrey, and you amaze me how you do it. I like the way you brought in Elliot lake, Toronto, Sudbury the soo and even Brian lol. Seriously Audrey it was an excellent story but was unable to give a review other than the 5 stars.....Eleanor Lambert, Bermuda.