WATCH: A 12-year-old girl makes an emotional plea for help for her father who lost both his hands in an industrial accident. John Hua reports.
For a little more than a month, 12-year-old Krista Atleo has had to help be her father’s hands. It’s a role she assumed after their family was told the care of a home support worker provided by WorkSafeBC would be stopped.
The stress and worry of caring for her father spurred Krista to pen a heartfelt letter to WorkSafeBC asking for the return of home support. A day after Global News reported on the Atleo family’s situation, WorkSafeBC released a statement saying they would review the level of home care support being provided.
The full statement from WorkSafeBC says:
“Late yesterday, senior staff at WorkSafeBC began a review of the level of home care support being provided for Mr. Atleo and his family. The Vice President of Claims Services, Todd McDonald, has reached out to the Atleo family today to offer a meeting at their convenience, in order to gain a clear understanding of their perspective on their current support and service needs. WorkSafeBC remains committed to providing Mr Atleo and his family with the support required to recover as well as possible from his very serious injuries.”
The home support, We Care, provided eight hours of care a day, seven days a week and Krista says it “takes off a lot of stress for my mom and me and everyone else in the family. Just so I can go back to not worrying about my dad being home alone.”
Her father, 45-year-old Taras Atleo, was involved in a BC Hydro accident in November 2014 where more than 14,000 volts of electricity went through his body, forcing the amputation of both of his hands. The adjustment has been difficult for the Chilliwack family of five but was made easier with the help of home support provided by WorkSafeBC.
Taras Atleo after an industrial accident forced the amputation of both his hands. Atleo family
Taras Atleo after an industrial accident forced the amputation of both his hands.
“When WorkSafeBC was here providing help, being my hands, which was the WorkSafe job… that took the stress off the family,” Taras says,
“It took the stress off my wife, and took the weight off my children from having to help me.”
But according to the Atleos, their situation changed for the worse when WorkSafeBC notified them in June that the home care worker was no longer needed. Instead, they would be given $2,000 a month to contract their own care.
“They weren’t entirely happy with We Care,” WorkSafeBC spokesperson Scott McCloy told Global News.
“So we always want to be in a situation where we’re trying to assist our clients to operate as independently as possible… This is about finding the best way possible to move him forward independently so he grows to move forward on his own.”
Atleo says it’s too early and now, the care has fallen to his family to help him with everything from taking his medication to brushing his teeth.
“The family dynamic has changed for sure,” says Atleo’s wife, Lorena. “The children have become caregivers and it’s frustrating for me.”
Global News contacted the home care company Atleo was using and was given a quote for the level of service, which costs about $7,000 a month. When asked about the large discrepancy between the WorkSafeBC stipend and original cost of the homecare, McCloy said he didn’t have an answer.
“What I can answer you on is we’re more than willing to work with him to find a way to fund his care in the best way we can. It was never about the money.”
It’s a concept that’s tough for a 12-year-old who is worried about her dad being alone.
“Because I’m starting school and I’ll be really, really busy,” a tearful Krista says.
“If we had We Care I wouldn’t have to come home and feed my dad and then homework and helping with everything. It just gets too busy…. We Care made it really easy. My mom wasn’t stressed. It was like a normal life, [where] you didn’t have to worry about your dad.”
~ with files from John Hua