Beverley Pomeroy
The ‘Informal Institutionalization’ of People with Disabilities: Part Two

The other day I wrote a passionate blog regarding the recent closure of a group home in Richmond. The story has become controversial, not only in the media, but in my life as well.

I live in the world of disabilities, maybe not from a bureaucratic, institutional model, but from a real life, hands on experiential world of disabilities. I am the mother of two of the 697,000 people in British Columbia that have disabilities. Yes, 697,000 people…in our province alone.

After I wrote my blog I received a number of phone calls and feedback, that while everyone agreed what was happening to the four adults living in the home, with the home closure, was horrific, that there was another side of the story. There actually is more than two sides, there appears to be a varied amount of opinions out there depending where in the disability sector you sit.

The group home in question is serviced by the same company that owns the actual home, they are under different names, but they are one of the same. This implies double dipping on part of the service provider / home owner and well, this private company is making money off of disabilities.

Looking into this further, though, DDA, who also services homes in Richmond, was told they must reduce the operating costs for a staff residential home so the budget complies with CLBC funding guidelines. If the service providers fails to do so, the contract is terminated, and put out for tender to others. And in some cases, it means individuals move to another home.

So whether you are a private service provider or an agency like Developmental Disability Association, the reality is, CLBC thinks service provision to people with disabilities can be done for cheaper, less. This can and does, has, compromised the quality of care residents receive.

I am a home owner, I have three children, two of which have disabilities, but even without that experience, in the 20 years I have been parenting, not much has become cheaper! In fact, if you look at the latest release from the Consumer Price Index consumer prices rose 2.7% in the last 12 months; primarily gas, and oh yea, FOOD.

So I am not sure how asking service providers to reduce their fees is in any way reasonable for CLBC to do in our economy. That would be like me asking my staff to do the same work for less pay. Ummm, they would all be bolting for the door.

I still argue that we have to start listening to the reports we have been compiling and not merely asking service providers to reduce their fees, or cost of serving people with disabilities but looking at alternative methods for housing, for servicing the 697,000 people in our province alone.

I am reposting the links I had in my original post regarding the research and recommendations for housing in our province for those in our disability sector. I know from my own perspective, my two children will more than likely live with me for many years until, or unless, a better model of housing exists. Ahhhh, adding that to my list…

In the meantime, the four adults that are now having to relocate are the victims of a system that isn’t working, that doesn’t work, and I challenge the decision makers involved to do the right thing and allow these vulnerable people to simply stay in their ‘home’, a home they have had for 15 to 20 years.

Don’t we ALL deserve that? And until we honor and respect people with disabilities fully, and their families, we have in existence an ‘informal institutionalization’ of people with disabilities occurring in our province.