Friday, July 30, 2010

Silence from CLBC frightens people waiting for axe to fall

I met with three families recently who are frightened by the rumours they’re hearing about the group homes where some of their family members live. They’re not alone.
Back when B.C. was closing the big institutions like Woodlands and Glendale in the 1980s and 90s, group homes housing four to six people were touted as the way of the future for people with severe mental handicaps, and money-savers to boot.
But that was then. Now, the government is back looking for more savings. The group homes that families believed would always be there have suddenly become the focus for budget cuts at Community Living B.C., the five-year-old Crown agency charged with overseeing housing and support services for adults with developmental disabilities.
A shift away from group homes isn’t necessarily a bad thing if well-handled, at least not for residents with the potential to thrive in more independent housing. More than 2,700 CLBC clients already live outside of the group-home system in B.C., in foster- style arrangements known as “home shares.”
Ellen Tarshis - whose agency Community Living Victoria runs home shares as well as 15 of the region’s group homes - says the world is a changed place for the current generation of people with developmental disabilities, who have benefited from changed thinking and practises that let them participate in ways that previous generations never could. Many don’t need or want the intensive level of support and supervision provided in group homes.
But a group-home closure is a terrifying prospect for families like the ones I talked to, and not only because they’ve been shut out of the process so thoroughly that all they’ve got to go on are rumours and innuendo.
They’ve got stories to tell - about the bad things that can happen to vulnerable people in a poorly monitored home-share, about the years of troubled behaviour and poor health that finally ended when  their loved one found a well-run, stable group home, about all the assurances that their family member would never have to move again . But they can’t find a receptive ear anywhere.
New Democrat MLA Nicholas Simons says group-home residents are in the process of being ranked by CLBC - in many cases without the knowledge of families or advocates - according to their level of disability. A dollar value is attached to each ranking representing how much CLBC is prepared to spend on people with that level of disability. Those who score below the level needed to keep their place in a group home will be moved.
Not that anyone is actually saying that out loud. According to CLBC communications, some group homes may close in coming years due to an aging population and people choosing “more person-centred and inclusive residential choices.” And some savings may be achieved down the line through service redesigns that embrace “more person-centred and cost-effective approaches.”

The reality is a little more pressing. CLBC and the mix of private and not-for-profit agencies that operate group homes have already struck a deal to identify residents who can be moved out. Plans are well underway.
So on the one hand, you’ve got Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman and CLBC chief Rick Mowles on record that nobody will be forced from group homes against their will. On the other, you’ve got families, advocates and residents who are completely in the dark about any of it, and unable to access even basic information about the redesign plans or the status of a specific group home.
“Families have been relegated to the role of bystander in one of the most important decisions of their lives,” says Simons, fresh from a successful fight in his Powell River-Sunshine Coast riding that prevented the closure of a local group home. 
If a more independent style of housing gives people a richer life and saves money at the same time, then it’s an idea whose time has come.
But the government’s stated motives look just a little suspect considering the process is unfolding with no attempt to include those most affected by the changes.  
Community supports and day programs are also being cut at the same time. Does that sound like something you’d do if you were genuinely committed to a better quality of life for people with developmental disabilities?
“Done properly, I think many people can lead even better lives than they are right now,” says Tarshis of home-sharing. Her agency is one of seven in the region already doing that work.
“But have I lost sleep over this? Yes, I have. There are things that I worry about.”
Me, too.


Brenton said...

People are being forced out of group homes right now, this isn't something that is happening down the line.

Anonymous said...

Closure plans need to be submitted to CLBC re: closure by September. If an individual is assessed at a funded level of support lower than what they are receiving they have to move. There is no choice. Facilitators are directed to connect families who are unhappy with families who are full og glee. Savings will be siphoned out of the system and will not be redirected to providing service to individuals on lengthy waitlists. This excercise is in direct violoation of CLBC's own principles as well as the principles that are to develop full citizenship for individuals. All this information is on the CLBC website. They have their marching orders and talking points have been funnelled down to front line workers to deceive parents into believing this is being done for reasons that are not truthful. It is a ruthless exercise in cutting the budget in the name of 'restructuring'. The talk amongst managers at CLBC is extremely disrespectful when talking about families. Horrible assumptions about them are being made giving justification to them to do what they need to do to slash and cut for the sake of $22M. CLBC looks great from afar. However, don't look to close or your stomach ache and your heart will break. CLBC began turning the ugly corner when new managers were brought in to stir the pot. I find it repulsive. My boyfriend told me I should not let it get to me. Easier said than done. It is what Jody says it is. It is sickening and evil. Believe your assumptions because they are closer to the truth than what you hear from any communications that come out of CLBC. Believe me, I know. I need to maove away from the Mainland. Alberta could be a good option.

Anonymous said...

The Community Care and Assisted Living Act may provide some help.

Standards to be maintained

(1) A licensee must do all of the following:
(c.2) make the rights of adult persons in care known, orally and in writing, to persons in care and their families and representatives;


Rights to participation and freedom of expression

3. An adult person in care has the right to participate in his or her own care and to freely express his or her views, including a right to all of the following:

(a) to participate in the development and implementation of his or her care plan;

(b) to establish and participate in a resident or family council to represent the interests of persons in care;

(c) to have his or her family or representative participate on a resident or family council on their own behalf;

(d) to have access to a fair and effective process to express concerns, make complaints or resolve disputes within the facility;

(e) to be informed as to how to make a complaint to an authority outside the facility;

(f) to have his or her family or representative exercise the rights under this clause on his or her behalf.

worker who cares said...

I guess the rules of engagement do not apply to those who made up the rules. I work on the front lines and seeing the clients go through this time and again, sometimes every few months, just makes me sick. I can't even imagine being a family member left in the dark. We have dropped from five group homes to two licensed homes in the last three years. All due to the government and I can't even describe how I feel about Rick Mowles as the ringleader. Campbell picks his cronies well, doesn't he. The mentioned Article 7.1 of the act is exactly what CLBC is NOT doing. Shame.


Anonymous said...

as a homeshare provider I have had first hand experience with the appalling methods clbc uses. From veiled threats, to making impossible demands, to suggesting, almost at times insisting , on doing things that violate the actual contract, using coercion, guilt, manipulation in attempts to save a dollar is beyond words. I refuse to be drawn into these tactics and am seriously considering leaving this profession that I have loved. I am only one story. There are many many more.

worker who cares said...

Since my last comment about CLBC, we have lost one of our last two group homes and now even more clients are being sent out during the day for an adult 'babysitting service'. Funds get shorter, clients get older and heaven forbid you are a parent of a child with special needs. It's not a nice way to live worrying your whole life away wondering where your child will end up and will their specific needs be met. I can't even imagine it. If you readers really care you would send letters to your MLA's and tell them of your disgust regarding this government.

Anonymous said...

Do not believe anything that Rick Mowles says, he is a lying sack of shit.

Anonymous said...

It is absolutely shameful how the public was duped into thinking that CLBC was the way to go for the care of all these people needing support in all levels of need.
I had become a home share person with a young man who had never had any stability in his whole life. He always ran away from his group homes and would get himself into trouble on the streets and with the police constantly. This person needed so much help I was not a doctor but, I had lots of patience.I learned to understand and love this young man like my family.
Yes, after ten years together they (CLBC) gave me a 2 hour notice of the end of the contract which originally came from the M.F.C..
Well we are both heart broken, I myself feel so lost as I miss him.
He is now in a cheap motel with only 10 hours a week support from what use to be about 24 hour a day support. This is the case until they can find suitable housing.
In the mean time I worry for his life as he has always been involved in high risk activities.
But instead of working with me with any transitional needs , they put into an unsafe situation, and yes the funding has been cut because as they have classed him as semi-independent with out any reason to as he is not and will never be because of his disabilities.
We are moving into third world conditions and people are allowing it so they can take home big big pay checks. WHAT QUALITY OF LIFE