Yukoner frustrated after dying friend denied electric scooter in long-term care home

Amy Iles says the manager told her dying friend that there were no electric scooters allowed at Whistle Bend Place.

'It's unacceptable and it's just inhumane,' says Amy Iles

Amy Iles says Len Burrows, pictured here in a ultralight aircraft, was one of her best friends for years. Burrows died on Nov. 22. (Submitted by Amy Iles)

A Yukon woman is calling for accountability after her dying friend was told his electric scooter wasn't permitted at a continuing care facilities run by the Yukon government, but he was allowed to keep it at another.

Amy Iles said the experience at Whistle Bend Place made the last few weeks of Len Burrows' life unnecessarily stressful, and she can't understand why the new multi-million dollar facility catering to Yukon's aging population would forbid electric scooters.

Amy Iles says she wants more accountability after her dying friend was told he couldn't live at the Whistle Bend facility while keeping his electric scooter. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

"It's unacceptable and it's just inhumane. You can't imagine that feeling," she said.

The territorial government said there is no policy outright banning electric scooters from the facility, and new staff may not have been given the proper information.

Iles was with Burrows when he was getting a tour of his soon-to-be new room at Whistle Bend in October. She said when he asked the manager where he could plug in his scooter, he was told there were no electric scooters.

Iles said the manager told them it was just the rule; so Burrows opted not to stay at the facility. 

"He was just shaken," she said. "We both were mortified." 

Iles says Burrows had been one of her best friends for years.

"[He] was certainly one of the 'colourful five per cent'," Iles said, referring to a common expression about Yukon's unique culture and residents. 

His electric scooter was key to Burrows's independence, after his health declined. (Submitted by Amy Iles)

Before lung disease and cancer limited his mobility, Burrows was passionate about ultralight aircraft and flying.

Iles said he was independent and active, and loved motorcycles, driving trucks and even scuba-diving.

After his health declined, his electric scooter was the key to his independence.

He had been living in local motels and the hospital since selling his estate to try to get into long-term care.

When a room became available at Whistle Bend Place, it represented relief and hope for him and his circle of close friends and family. It's also why the news they got on the tour that day was so devastating, said Iles. It was a deal breaker for them.

Copper Ridge Place

A week after the tour, a room opened up at another government-run facility called Copper Ridge Place. Burrows was allowed to keep his scooter when he moved in.

Burrows died three weeks later on Nov. 22. Iles said it was peaceful, and she's grateful for the care of the Copper Ridge staff.

Iles spent time grieving, then decided to speak up. She wants Yukoners to know what they went through so no other families have to go through the same thing.

Pat Living, a spokesperson for Yukon's Department of Health and Social Services, said the policy for all continuing care facilities is for each incoming individual to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

"We try and personalize it as much as possible, and that includes reviewing the things that come with them, their equipment," said Living.

"But we have to make sure that it fits within the context of everybody else who is resident in that facility."

Burrows loved flying before he was diagnosed with lung disease and cancer. (Submitted by Amy Iles)

Living said she can't speak to specifics, but acknowledged there had been an earlier issue.

"Because Whistle Bend is so new and we have such very new staff, perhaps information is not being passed on as it should have," said Living. "I understand that one of our other more senior employees did reach out to this individual to resolve the issue."

Living said it's "very unfortunate" the situation happened this way, but believes it will not happen again.

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