Canadian woman Ashley Barytik used social media to bring attention to what she perceives as inequity when it comes to healthcare for the elderly. Her Facebook post on Aug. 23 featured a photo of a seated elderly couple wiping away tears. Though the picture is blurry, the emotion behind the photo is unmissable.
The people in the photo are Barytik’s grandparents. They both have a host of health problems, so they are in assisted living facilities. They are crying because they only get to see each other every other day since they live in separate assisted living facilities 30 minutes away from each other. Barytik said the lack of taxpayer-funded beds is the reason the couple can’t stay together.
British Columbia-based Fraser Health runs the assisted living facilities at which Barytik’s grandparents live. Barytik said she and her family members have spoken with Fraser Health in the past, but they heard a lot of promises, but didn’t see a lot of action. At that time, the best officials said they could do was to put Barytik’s grandfather on a waiting list to be at the same facility as her grandmother.
When Barytik made her grievances public on Facebook, however, things changed. After the media began picking up the story, members of the public wanted to foot the bill and do what Fraser Health had not been able to do–put the couple of 62 years together in a facility. Barytik’s family refused the donations because they wanted to bring awareness to the fact that Fraser Health wasn’t offering the accommodations Barytik felt her grandparents and people in similar situations deserved. Media attention also seemed to push Fraser Health’s hand. They offered Barytik’s grandfather a bed at a closer facility. The organization has also agreed to start improving the way it communicates with families in similar situations.