Issues of Visitation by Family

Thank you for all of your support in securing full unrestricted visitation to my father, age 78, with advanced dementia, limited communication abilities and confined permanently to a wheelchair by his lady-friend following over one and a half years of antagonism between the parties…

…It is my firm belief that if you had not been involved we would not be celebrating this successful end to a difficult period in the care of my father. Your professional “take the high road” approach created the communication break through. No assigned blame was needed to resolve this dispute. You opened up the dialogue with genuine intent to resolve and ensure a final solution in the best interest and care for my elderly father…

…I can appreciate that this effort was not easy. Countless hours or your time was required in dialogue and face-to-face meetings with all parties – myself, my father’s lady friend and administrators (at his long-term residence and CSSS) at all levels, including a visit and time spent with my father at his care centre in a small village in central Quebec. You exhibited great patience, understanding, but also resolve in making the right progress over time. A lot of emotions were mixed into this matter which you were able to deal with effectively, while working towards an end-goal…

…Your conciliatory approach, from the start, was no doubt the right one to pursue. Although there was pressure to take a confrontational approach, with the purpose of laying blame on parties, you convinced everyone that this would not result in a successful outcome – risking alienation, delays and likely incurring costs.

– son of client

Being Sued on a Fixed Income

“I am writing to express our appreciation for the excellent assistance my wife and I have received from Me. Ann Soden, Ad. E., and the Centre. Madame Soden has been extremely helpful in defending our rights “pro bono” while we were imposed upon after having received a “mise en demeure” claiming $30,000 for latent defects in the family home we had sold, defects which were unfounded. As seniors aged 79 and 80 on fixed income (pensions) we were emotionally affected by this experience. The entry of the Clinic had the purchaser reduce his claim and Madame Soden expeditiously proceeded with a court directed mediation process in Small Claims Court where she was permitted to present the facts of our case (not the law), and to present a settlement to buy peace which finalized our predicament. Her expertise and relentless effort gave us much needed solace and confidence. We thank her very much for her free legal help, and also for her continued availability to other seniors with the Clinic.”

– clients, 2012


Mental Illness and the Older Adult

My mother is 79 years old and has a 35-year psychiatric history. Over the last 35 years, she has been frequently hospitalized. Her most recent hospitalization was in November 2011. My mother had once again stopped taking her medication, all of her medication, both for her psychiatric and acute physical conditions. We were unable to get her back on her medication…

…We were asked by the hospital to supply them with the name of a notary, so that they could start the process of a curatorship. The hospital social worker met with us to tell us that under a curatorship, we would be making all decisions on behalf of my mother as to her care (and institutionalization). Over the next 10 days, we felt pressure from the hospital to find a notary and they called us several times. We did not understand the necessity of a curatorship and having my mother declared incapacitated seemed excessive to us…

Me Soden was an incredible help during a very difficult time. Immediately she explained that we did not need a curatorship for my mother, that it was indeed excessive and inappropriate, removing all of her civil rights when all she needed was to be treated medically, something she was refusing. (She was otherwise completely competent as to finances and as to daily activities. She had always had mental illness. She was simply older. There was no need to protect her more than was absolutely needed, Me Soden explained).

Me Soden was always available for my calls; she called my mother’s psychiatrist and advised him, as he was preparing documents for court once again, that a request for curatorship was not necessary and that what was needed was court-ordered treatment and care for my mother (Ordonnance pour authorization de soins et hebergement), which had been explained to my mother. My mother’s psychiatrist agreed with Me Soden and together they visited my mother in hospital. Me Soden explained the doctor’s decision on her care and treatment to my mother and she advised her that she could represent her in court on the day of the hearing, if my mother so chose.

Me Soden advised me on the differences between the court order and a curatorship and I, in turn, was able to better discuss the process with hospital staff. In the end, despite visits and explanations from Me. Soden, from the hospital staff and from family members, my mother did not attend the court hearing, However, I felt comforted that, with Me Soden’s help and attendance at court to advocate for my mother, my mother’s rights were respected and that we, her family, had made the right and informed decisions for her care.

I understand that the “system” is overburdened and so we were unintentionally misguided by hospital staff. We were pressured to find a notary as quickly as possible to have my mother declared incapacitated, simply because, it seemed to me, this is a legal tool that is often used by hospitals in these situations. We sincerely feel there is a gap that needs to be filled in helping people – patients, families and hospital staff – understand the legal issues when it comes to caring for the elder population. We were very fortunate to have learned about Me Soden at the right time but I cannot help but wonder how many other people out there don’t have this assistance or don’t know their rights? It is only with the help of people like Me Soden, who assisted us in navigating this complex maze, that there could be less pressure on an already overburdened health-care system, especially now when our aging population is growing at such a rapid rate…

…I hope that there is a way in the very near future to incorporate into our system what Ann Soden provides on a pro bono basis for the many people who require legal assistance during such a difficult time. I truly believe that the elder person, their families and hospital staff would all benefit greatly from the generous and knowledgeable help and counsel of professionals like Me Soden.

– daughter of a client



“I have been wanting to tell you how succinctly you presented the options available for elders, and or their families, in situations of possible abuse. Your development of a team support system is a process I strongly believe in.

I found the service offered by your office to be welcoming, inclusive and genuinely caring for those who may be or feel fragile and alone. It made me feel that there are people like you who just want to give others a hug and say, “we care.”

There is nothing more comforting then to come across a comprehensive article outlining a number of services dedicated to the elderly and their caregivers. I now have a much clearer understanding of exactly what you do, and I salute you for your initiative. “

– client, 2015