Woman with multiple sclerosis struggles after apartment adaptations make life worse
We first met Beverley Rothstein 17 years ago. The advocate for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) needed a new place to stay because she was too ill to walk up and down the stairs.
That was in 2005
"You can't be independent. I was a fully independent person before" she said at the time.
Fast forward to 2022.
Beverley Rothstein is now well into her 60s, and the degenerative condition of MS is affecting her motor skills, so her health has worsened.
She now uses a wheelchair, and her hands and legs constantly shake, turning the most simple movements into painful chores.
"It's hard. I was very outgoing before, and then it started going, and I can't be in control like that," said the former business owner.
Four years ago, she placed a request with her CLSC to have her bathroom adapted for a wheelchair.
The program exists to keep patients in their homes as long as possible.
It took until this winter for an occupational therapist to evaluate her needs and give out the contract to have the work done.
When Rothstein returned home, however, she noticed her modified bathroom was just as hard to use.
Starting with the sink...
"It's so low; look what it did to my legs!" she said while pointing to the inadequate space preventing her from effectively rolling her chair under the sink.
She can wash her hands but can't wash her face or brush her teeth because the measurements don't match her wheelchair.
As for using the toilet, the bars are awkwardly-placed. It forces her to stretch her arms to grab it. Then the sidebars to the toilet are placed too high, making them impossible to hold on to.
The set-up makes a huge noise when she sits down while holding the sidebars. Neighbours have started to complain about the noise.
A domestic helper, who comes three times a week, has to help her in and out of the bathroom and the shower.
Rothstein says she's been calling the CLSC and the health board since March to have corrections made but to no avail.
Advocates for those with limited mobility say people in Rothstein's situation often end up in long-term care facilities, not because they want to but because their homes are not properly adapted.
"There's almost 35 per cent of them who will go the way of the CHSLD because it takes too long," said Linda Gauthier from the Regroupement Activistes Pour L'Inclusion Quebec (RAPLIQ). "The cost of maintaining a patient in a long-term facility is considerably higher than providing them with support to live at home."
Gauthier also said the program to make homes adapted is severely underfunded, especially in neighbourhoods where there's a higher number of seniors.
CTV News requested an interview with the regional health board to see what could be done for Rothstein.
A spokesperson declined to comment, citing privacy policies.
Meanwhile, Rothstein now has bigger issues.
The noise made by the support bars and her occasional screams because of the pain have led to complaints, and she's now being threatened with eviction despite her condition.