Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Sad Reality

Recent CBC investigative reports (which you can find here, here, here, and here) reveal a disturbing reality in Special Care Homes in New Brunswick.  People who depend on these facilities for care (seniors, people with physical and/or intellectual disabilities) are subject to emotional and physical abuse, neglect, improper use of medication, and the worst kind of disrespect, all from the people entrusted to provide their care.

These reports should shock and scandalize New Brunswickers, but sadly should not surprise them.  The world can be a hostile place for the most vulnerable people in our midst, particularly men and women with intellectual disabilities, who so often cannot speak for themselves.

The New Brunswick government needs to address the broken system that allows these types of abuses to happen.  Are your listeners aware that the minimum staffing standards for these for-profit Special Care Homes in New Brunswick are vastly lower than in other Atlantic Provinces?  They may be shocked to find that homes like these can provide care for up to 6 people with just one staff on duty at any given time, and can support up to 14 people with just two caregivers.  In environments like this, is it any doubt that abuses happen? 

L’Arche seeks to support people with intellectual disabilities in an environment that fosters mutual relationships and personal growth.  We affirm the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  It is no wonder, then, that our little L’Arche community in Saint John, which provides care for five men and women with disabilities, fundraises over $70,000 per year.  This is necessary to provide a quality of life that is safe, fulfilling, and in keeping with what any of us would want for ourselves or our family members.  It is a shame that the funding provided by the New Brunswick government falls so abysmally short of allowing us to give people the care and the life they deserve.

The government would claim that waiting lists are short for people with disabilities waiting for care in New Brunswick.  Of course they are.  Who would wish their loved one to be subjected to an environment such as the one revealed in these incident reports?  It is time for the province to support organizations like L’Arche, who seek to raise the minimum standard of care for our most vulnerable citizens to a level that New Brunswickers can be proud of.

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