17. CASE: Too Much to Expect?

92-year old Ellie MacPherson has recently moved to a long-term care facility. She had found that the increasing difficulty she was experiencing due to arthritis with getting dressed, making her meals and getting out of the house meant that she could no longer live on her own.

Ellie brought a number of her favourite clothes to the long-term care facility. While she was initially asked what she would like to wear, this practice has changed. Now the person assisting Ellie with getting dressed chooses the clothes for her. Ellie expressed her frustration with this situation saying, “I’m 92 years old! Don’t you think I can choose what to wear? I’m not a baby!”

The response she heard back was that it took too long for Ellie to choose her clothes and that she would have to make do: “Other residents in the facility need assistance with getting dressed as well and I can’t spend all my time on you.” Ellie’s family has requested an ethics consultation to address the issue.

  • Is Ellie’s complaint unreasonable?
  • Is this an ethics issue?
  • How would your ethics committee handle this inquiry?


Some Values and Ethics Issues to Consider

  • Resource allocation
  • Patient-centered care
  • Respect for human dignity
  • Patient-provider relationships
  • Quality of life
  • Respect for patient autonomy

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