Senior forced to recover from surgery in homeless shelter
Published Wednesday, February 17, 2016 6:52PM PST
An 82-year-old woman from North Vancouver is speaking out after being forced to live in a homeless shelter as she recovers from cancer surgery.
Francis Flann describes herself as tough and feisty, but admits living in a shelter has been hard on her. In fact, she sums up her current situation as “the sh*ts.”
“Treated well here, it’s clean, but I’m not one happy person,” Flann said.
The ordeal started when she was admitted to hospital with pneumonia on Jan. 1. Doctors discovered she had breast cancer, and Flann eventually underwent a mastectomy.
But when she was being discharged from hospital, Flann learned her apartment was under renovation.
“They’re re-doing it all. They found bedbugs,” she said.
Vancouver Coastal Health was able to put the senior up in a hotel room, but only for one week. That’s how she ended up at a shelter run by Lookout Emergency Aid Society.
“They let everybody down. I’m lucky they brought me here – how many people my age are sleeping in alleys?” Flann said.
Shelter manager Bailey Mumford said Flann’s situation is far from unique, noting there are at least two seniors in the facility at any given time.
“We’ve seen an increase of seniors coming through our shelter system and needing supportive housing,” Mumford said.
Residents took a quick liking to Flann and her big personality, Mumford added, but not everyone finds it so easy to fit in.
“We had two elderly women in their 60s who had lost their home, but they chose to live in their car because they didn’t feel comfortable coming into a shelter environment,” he said.
Advocates say seniors often struggle to feed themselves, pay for medication and rent under their pensions alone. Frann told CTV News that before her diagnosis, she used to take two buses and a SeaBus to get to a part-time job that she worked to help make ends meet.
Fortunately, Flann received some good news Wednesday: a Good Samaritan who heard her story has offered to send her to another hotel room until her home is ready.
But Flann still wants to see the government step up and provide for people in need.
“Get some housing for people,” she said. “Too much talk, not enough action.”
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Alex Turner