Voluntary Primary Care: Effects on Geriatric Psychiatry Patients

  • Jessika Roy-Desruisseaux Département de psychiatrie, CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS; Faculté de médecine et des sciences de la santé, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0003-641X
Keywords: geriatric psychiatry, self-neglect, elderly, primary care, consent, care refusal, autonomy, protection
Language(s): French


Over the past few decades, autonomy has become a core value in our societies, enshrining the will of patients as a premise for access to front-line care and services. Thus, in the case of patients refusing home care, the willingness to participate in an assessment often takes precedence over the needs identified by caregivers, however compelling they may be. For the gerontopsychiatric patient, this organizational position can lead to several pitfalls, and even risky or dangerous situations. Indeed, the refusal of care and services among seniors, frequently associated with self-neglecting behaviours, can lead to clinical deterioration, hospitalization or even death. It is therefore essential to examine the motivations behind the choices made by seniors and to adapt the approach of caregivers to these situations. Consent to care is a dialogical process that must include an explanation of the risks in the event of refusal. Access to care must not be automatically limited when there is the slightest opposition, without first engaging in further reflection. This article describes why concrete solutions must be actively sought to nuance the understanding and application of the values of autonomy and protection for seniors in the healthy provision of care and services, even more so for the vulnerable patient who is aging and suffering from psychic symptoms.

How to Cite
Roy-Desruisseaux J. Voluntary Primary Care: Effects on Geriatric Psychiatry Patients. Can. J. Bioeth. 2020;3:33-42. https://doi.org/10.7202/1073545ar.