I got a message last night from the daughter of one of the Mansion residents that I want to share:
“I want to thank you and your readers for all of the help you have given my mother and the other residents this week and throughout the year. They love you and they love Maria and Red. Your photographs have been a great comfort to us, we can see how our Mother is doing even though we don’t live close by, and we know you have helped her more than once this year in a number of ways. Your photographs are a comfort to us, and she really loves being noticed. Thank you, thank you, please don’t let them stop you.”
Thanks much for that, I’m not inclined to let them stop me.
Yesterday, the management of the Danforth Adult Care Facility put up a note to all staffers – theirs and the Mansions – forbidding anyone from taking photos or videos inside their facility of anyone, including visitors.
I find last night and this morning that I’m not comfortable permitting them to make the Mansion residents invisible again, especially during this difficult time, when they help and attention, and when they need to be reminded that they are not alone or forgotten.
We all have to resist sometimes in our own way, I’m figuring out my way. I’m posting this photo of the Mansion residents having dinner a few days before the ban notice.
The Mansion staff does a great job of protecting their residents privacy in many ways.
Sometimes, a resident will die and I won’t know anything about it until I see someone else in their room. There are many residents you never see.
The support and attention the residents have received from the outside world has made an enormous difference to them this week while regulators and officials – acting perhaps in good faith – have uprooted them from their lives.
For me to stop posting images of them would make me compliant which a system that has made them invisible to the outside world. We hide the elderly away and out of sight, we don’t really have to think about how they are or how they are being treated.
The photographs are their voices, they bring them to life, they honor their lives and tell them the are not forgotten. They connect them to their families.
I reject the idea that they need to be protected from me, or from Red, or from the Army Of Good. They need to be protected from isolation and indifference, and I don’t see too many bureaucrats inspecting for that. The Mansion understands that, they have made my work possible
I respect the residents privacy totally, as does the Mansion, but the issue is not privacy. It is clearly something else. The residents are entitled to the support they are receiving, and the photographs are essential to that. They are never taken without permission.
I’m not sure how I will respond to this Danforth note. I didn’t bring my camera into the Danforth last night when I visited last night. I joked the other day that they would regret it if they hauled Red or me off to jail. Maybe it ought not to be a joke.
Out of concern for the Mansion aides, who were compelled to sign the ban, I won’t take any photographs inside the Danforth. The Mansion aides might get into trouble, and they don’t need to be in the middle of this.
But no one can stop me from posting photographs I took before the ban notice went up. I have permission to photograph the Mansion residents, I broke no rules, although no one has bothered to talk to me directly.
So I will do that this week, I don’t want them to fade into memory or feel forgotten. Those who can read my blog faithfully. I won’t let them down. And thanks once again for your support.